The complexity of Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET) makes it a highly debated issue, not only as an instrument to evaluate course quality but also as an instrument in the faculty HR cycle. The VSNU-IAE France-led project looked at the practices especially at the European level.
This research conducted by Ad Scheepers, SET Project: Student Evaluations of Teaching, Measuring and Enhancing Course Quality and Teaching Quality, shows that student evaluation should be viewed as a process, as a cycle. One of the important steps in this cycle is the interpretation of the data, and that obviously depends on the aim identified when constructing the instrument. This can go from improving the teaching, quality assurance or appraising teachers.
The literature review allowed to pull out some interesting recommendations on each of the SET process stages. Most of the previous studies do not focus on the whole SET process but are fragmented. The main concerns centred around reliability, validity, and bias.
During the field study, current practices were studied in 50 European and non-European business schools for the different SET process stages. The main conclusions on establishing a good practice are:
- Use a multidimensional instrument for assessing teaching effectiveness and quality rather than one global measure.
- Do not make the questionnaire too complicated and use core dimensions and a minimal number of items per dimension to guarantee reliability. This will also increase response rates.
- Check reliability regularly and systematically. This will also counter bias.
- Response rates are a big concern, but it does not have to be problematic. Either the sample should be sufficiently representative or SET should be made mandatory and an integral part of a course or module.
- When SET is used for HR purposes, such as tenure and promotion, additional sources of information should be available and used.
- The quality of SET will greatly improve if SET is seen as a process with linked, coherent stages, and when it forms a closed loop. One ‘actor’ should be appointed as accountable for the whole process.
The findings of the research as well as full project report are noted in the recent project report.