Teaching & Learning Committee ReportsAGENDA ITEM NO: 9.1
INSTRUCTIONAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
REQUEST FOR DECISION
PRESENTED BY: Bob Tyler, Chair, Instructional Development Committee
DATE OF MEETING: June 14, 2007
SUBJECT: Student Evaluation of Instructors/Courses
DECISION REQUESTED: That Council endorse the following recommendations regarding student evaluation of instructors/courses.
That the Student Evaluation of Educational Quality (SEEQ) instrument be designated an approved, validated instructor/course evaluation instrument for use by any or all academic units at the University of Saskatchewan;
That academic units be encouraged to adopt SEEQ as their instructor/course evaluation instrument; and
That in light of the associated administrative efficiencies, academic units endeavour to conduct SEEQ in on-line form.
In approving the Framework for Student Evaluation of Teaching at the University of Saskatchewan in January of 2004, Council endorsed several recommendations from the Instructional Development Committee (IDCC) related to best practices for student evaluation of teaching and next steps in addressing issues related to student evaluation of teaching. With respect to the latter set of recommendations, the IDCC committed to: i) developing a proposal for the provision of financial resources and technical expertise to assist departments and colleges in validating their existing teaching evaluation instruments; ii) determining the level of interest in, and viability of, developing a common questionnaire for student evaluation of teaching and, if deemed worthwhile, developing and testing a common questionnaire; and iii) considering issues related to web-based administration of teaching evaluations.
Subsequently, a variety of activities have been undertaken by the IDCC with respect to student evaluation of teaching, with the support of, or in conjunction with, the Provostï¿½s Office, the Integrated Planning Office, Institutional Analysis, and Information Technology Services. A survey of several Canadian universities revealed common issues related to student evaluation of teaching at these institutions, along with a range of policies and procedures related to teaching evaluation and wide variation in the instruments employed and the degree to which results of evaluations were disseminated to students and faculty. A comprehensive survey of colleges and departments at the University of Saskatchewan yielded generally similar results. The considerable human and other resources required to undertake these surveys were provided by the Integrated Planning Office. The Provostï¿½s Office has enabled a number of experts in course and instructor evaluation to visit the U of S and share with us their knowledge and expertise. Several workshops and presentations on teaching evaluation have been made available to the campus community, most in conjunction with the Provostï¿½s Series on Teaching and Learning held last fall. The Chair of the IDCC met with the executive and other members of the Faculty Association to obtain their input on instructor evaluation, SEEQ in particular.
The IDCC has identified the Student Evaluation of Educational Quality (SEEQ) instrument as suitable for use at the University of Saskatchewan. SEEQ was developed by Dr. Herbert Marsh at the University of Western Sydney in the late 1970s and was unveiled in the British Journal of Educational Psychology in 1982. It is currently in use at two universities in Canada (at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and at St. Maryï¿½s University in Halifax) and at several universities around the world (e.g. University College Dublin, the Australian National University, Western Sydney, Curtin University of Technology, Pennsylvania State, Syracuse, Maryland). The SEEQ instrument has a long history of use (responses to date from approximately 50,000 courses and one million students in a wide range of disciplines at both undergraduate and graduate levels) and has been proven valid and reliable through extensive research and statistical testing. Pilot testing of SEEQ was undertaken at the University of Saskatchewan in both terms of the 2006-2007 academic year. Students in a variety of courses (some multi-section) in the College of Engineering, the College of Commerce, the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and the Department of Computer Science completed paper-based or on-line versions of SEEQ in lieu of the respective usual teaching evaluation instruments. At 40+ questions, students found the SEEQ questionnaire to be time-consuming, the paper-based version particularly so. The on-line version required considerable set-up time by ITS, but was preferred by students and was associated with several administrative efficiencies related to generation of summary reports of objective data and transcription of studentsï¿½ written comments. Low student participation rates were a concern with the on-line version, however, as has been identified by others using SEEQ or other on-line instructor/course evaluation instruments.
The IDCC has concluded that the positive attributes of SEEQ, which include its validity, reliability, adaptability and history of use, offset its primary disadvantage, namely its relative length and the time required for completion. (It is worthy of note that successful on-line application of SEEQ would address this disadvantage to a significant extent and make available associated administrative efficiencies.) It has also concluded that given the availability of SEEQ (and in contrast to what was originally envisioned by the IDCC, and by Council in light of its approval of the Framework for Student Evaluation of Teaching at the University of Saskatchewan), there is little or no merit in devising means to validate non-valid instruments currently in use, or to develop a new validated instrument. Instead, with support from the Provostï¿½s Office, ITS and others, the IDCC would facilitate the adoption of SEEQ by academic units, and is, therefore, requesting Councilï¿½s endorsement of the foregoing recommendations.
The motions were presented as a Notice of Motion to the May, 2007 meeting of Council.