Teaching evaluation

The purpose of evaluations is to reveal the relationship between the learning objectives you define for your students and the actual results they achieve. You can use the results of evaluations to plan your teaching and close the gap between these learning objectives and actual results in future. This will help you to improve the quality of your teaching. The process of evaluation empowers the students and can increase their sense of commitment to their own learning processes.

The gap between expectations and actual results

In general, evaluations involve expressions of value and assessments of quality. Student evaluations contain analysis of and comments about how objectives and results are connected in teaching or learning processes. The aim of evaluations is to interpret the relationship between the expected results and the results that are actually achieved. There are three main reasons for carrying out student evaluations:

  1. To give the students the chance to provide feedback on teaching and increase their sense of involvement by giving them influence.
  2. Systematic evaluations can give teachers useful information to improve the quality of their teaching and motivate teachers to do their best in each individual teaching session.
  3. Data from evaluations can be used to support decisions regarding the development of courses and degree programmes as a whole.

Choose the right form of evaluation for your needs

The form of evaluation used has a big effect on the results, so it is important that teachers are aware of the purpose of their own particular evaluations. You can use summative evaluations to assess student learning processes and your teaching as a whole. Summative evaluations measure what the students have learned. You can also use formative evaluations, the purpose of which is to promote and shape future learning processes. Formative evaluations have been shown to have a positive effect on the efforts made by students as well as their learning processes.

Focus on good evaluation practice

Good evaluation practice allows for various dimensions and creates a balance between knowledge, values, application and the object being evaluated. The way in which knowledge is collected and presented must be made clear. You need to decide which of the parties involved should choose the basic values of the evaluation in order to increase the demands that are made. You need to analyse the evaluation results and the way in which the evaluation process can be used in practice. The object of evaluation must also be obvious: many different things can be evaluated, so the framework must be clearly defined.

Factors beyond the control of teachers

Even though student evaluations are negative, this does not necessarily mean that the course or teacher in question is sub-standard. There are many reasons for negative evaluations, and they need to be assessed in the right context, drawing overall conclusions from the evaluation results. Even though your evaluation process has a clear framework, the results may identify the presence of factors which are beyond your control. So teachers should focus on things that can be changed – but also on how their teaching can be structured to increase the motivation and commitment of the students.