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Student Ratings and Course Evaluations: Improving Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

Improving Learning Strategies in Education

Discussant Information

Dr. C.J. Leacock

Author Information:

Dr. Sylvia Henry
Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning UWI, Cave Hill Campus

Presentation Information:

Presentation #: 10
Date: 3rd June, 2015
Time: 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: KARISSA (Room 3)


Whether we like it or not, end-of-course student evaluations of lecturers are ubiquitous in higher education. Universities consistently use student ratings and evaluations for summative purposes for making decisions on promotion, and tenure or formative development of faculty. But how prepared are our faculty to receive and act on this feedback? This paper offers a case study of one university?s attempt to support faculty understanding and use of student evaluations to foster better teaching and learning. This is a difficult proposition, as ?Student course evaluations have been established as a source of anxiety for faculty? (Hodges & Stanton, 2007) and for some incite outright hostility (Franklin & Theall, 1989). According to Theall and Franklin (2000) the discomfort of faculty over ratings and shortfalls in good classroom practice can lead to faculty discounting their importance and hindering teaching and course development efforts. Moreover, a wide range of research (e.g., Beran et al., 2005; Campbell & Bozeman, 2008, Marsh 2007) suggests while some faculty view ratings positively, they do not use the results to make changes to their course or their teaching, with little impact on teaching effectiveness and performance. It is therefore critical, as Hodges and Stanton (2007) posit, that faculty receive assistance and guidance to view evaluations more positively and adopt a more scholarly approach to teaching, which ? ?results in effective changes. This?curriculum specializations revealed that the programme enhanced lesson planning skills, classroom management and questioning skills and that classroom organization was essentially traditional with whole group teaching as the preferred approach. ?Contextual issues such as technical support; school policies and processes; relationships among staff; programmatic issues; and societal issues facilitated or hindered the application of principles and theories, including student-centered approaches. The implications of the findings for review of the Dip Ed programme are ? ? ? ? ? ?discussed. ??