Obstacles and opportunities: addressing the growing pains of summative student evaluation of teaching

Surgenor, P. W. G. (2013) Obstacles and opportunities: addressing the growing pains of summative student evaluation of teaching. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 38 (3). pp. 363-376. ISSN 02602938


Summative student evaluation of teaching (SET) is a contentious process, but given the increasing emphasis on quality and accountability, as well as national and international calls for centralised student feedback systems, is likely to become an inevitable aspect of teaching. This research aimed to clarify academics’ attitudes to SET in a large Irish university to identify obstacles to be addressed and opportunities to be developed. Manual thematic analysis was conducted on the transcriptions from four focus groups and written responses to focus group questions. Four themes emerged, relating to the purpose, validity, usefulness and consequences of SET. Opportunities to be developed included student accountability for students and easily obtained feedback on modules and teaching. Obstacles to be addressed included: challenges to academics’ autonomy; speculation on potential negative consequences; difficulties measuring good teaching; and implications of SET data in both a personal and professional capacity. The research concludes by suggesting a reconsideration of the role of, and attitudes towards, SET in light of a shifting educational paradigm, and stating that SET has the potential to become an indicator of dedication to teaching and improvement, to ensure student feedback plays a role in promoting quality learning and not just quality stats. [ABSTRACT FROM PUBLISHER]; Copyright of Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education is the property of Routledge and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)

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