Why do we evaluate?
We evaluate courses and teaching to enhance students' learning, by providing content that is current, relevant and appropriate to their needs. To continually improve learning and teaching, we must continually evaluate it by:
- gathering information about the quality of student learning that is taking place in our courses and programs
- making judgments based on that information.
Then we must adjust our teaching in accordance with those judgments.
What do we need to find out?
As educators we need to know how we have affected the learning of those we teach. We need to find out whether we have:
- been able to create a shift in understanding,
- managed to provide students with new knowledge,
- strengthened their existing understanding and knowledge.
Characteristics of effective evaluation
"Doing good evaluation is like doing good research. In both cases, you are trying to answer some important questions about an important topic. The key to doing both activities well is (a) identifying the right questions to ask and (b) figuring out how to answer them." (Fink, 1995)
To meaningfully evaluate the quality of learning taking place in your courses and programs, gather feedback and evidence:
- at several times throughout a course or program
- from many sources, including students, colleagues and through self-reflection.
If you need help undertaking program, course and unit reviews, Learning and Teaching Unit (LTU) staff are available to assist - please contact Adele Flood.
Use the following resources to help you evaluate the effectiveness of the course or program you are teaching. On this Teaching Gateway site, look at the following pages:
- The CATEI (Course and Teaching Evaluation and Improvement) process, a key component of UNSW's policy of continuous improvement.
- Developing Professional Practice - (Program logic model) - Pilot Evaluation Outline
- Diploma of Professional Practice - Evaluation Plan
- Assessment feedback - what students want, what teachers want, feedback issues and strategies for giving effective feedback.
- Integrating technology - how you might evaluate blended and online learning.
More generally, read the Guidelines on Learning that Inform Teaching at UNSW - these will help you reflect on your teaching approach.
- CELTS, University of Canberra, Evaluation as Academic Practice.
- University of Tasmania, Improving Teaching and Learning Practice, Evaluation.
- Brennan, J. & Williams, R. 2004, Collecting and Using Student Feedback: A Guide to Good Practice, Learning and Teaching Support Network, UK.
- Gosling, D. 2002, Models of Peer Observation of Teaching, Learning and Teaching Support Network, UK.
- Committee for University Teaching and Staff Development (CUTSD), University of Technology Sydney, Peer Review for Learning about Teaching.
- Fink, L. 1995, "Evaluating your own teaching", in P. Seldin (ed.) Improving College Teaching, Anker Publishing, Bolton, MA.