WHAT WE KNOW
This National OLT Seed Project allowed us to develop case studies of student evaluation in the context of six Australian universities. These universities are: Bond University, Australian Catholic University, Central Queensland University, Charles Sturt University, Curtin University and The University of Western Australia.
Overall, this project helped us establish that we know the following six things about higher education student evaluation.
· Student evaluation is a component of quality assurance. Feedback from students allows universities to identify strengths and areas of needed improvement.
· The most common use of student evaluation data is as evidence in academic promotions and PDR processes. While this is one use, it should not be the only use.
· Deriving helpful answers depends on asking the right questions. For example, if universities want to find out whether students perceive that their educators and subjects are supporting their learning, then it is insufficient for survey questions to ask only about teaching.
· Closing-the-loop means that universities take action in response to feedback from students. Students want to know what happened as a result of their survey responses.
· Electronic systems have allowed universities to develop comprehensive reporting, including quantitative analysis of Likert-scale items and qualitative thematic analysis of student comments.
· Universities need to be clear about the student role in evaluation processes. Are students raters or are they evaluators? The student evaluation process can heighten student engagement and involvement in their education.