Student Evaluation

Student evaluation is another means of receiving feedback on instruction.

Student evaluation of courses or units and of instruction has been used at HEIs for many years. As far back as 1949, Guthrie asserted that teaching is best judged by students as well as by colleagues.

The use of student evaluations of teacher performance is sometimes part of a broader peer and self-assessment approach to teaching quality. In some cases, they are used as part of the individual review of staff and can be taken into account in promotion and tenure situations.

Core Definition

Student evaluation has two meanings:

1. student evaluation is an assessment by learners of the service provided by the institution, be it solely of the classroom experience or of all aspects of the learning experience.

2. in some countries, such as the United States and Canada, 'student evaluation' has the same meaning as the assessment of students' learning.

Explanatory Context

Student evaluation sometimes involves an evaluation of all aspects of the learning experience provided by the institution. This is sometimes called the total student experience.

In other cases, the student evaluation might be restricted to feedback on the performance of teaching staff, usually undertaken at the unit (course or module) level. Often this teacher performance evaluation is limited and often fails to engage with students' own evaluation of their learning. Sometimes, albeit rarely, evaluation procedures focus on an assessment of learning.

Student evaluation is sometimes referred to as student feedback. However, the term 'feedback' needs to be used with care and a clear distinction drawn between feedback from students about their experience and feedback to students about their progress.

Feedback from students is the same as the first core meaning above. Feedback to students is the same as assessment of students' learning and thus similar to the second core meaning above.

Student evaluation in the sense of assessment of students (and thus of feedback to students on progress) is summed up by the University of Missouri School of Medicine (2012):

Student evaluation is a vital part of any educational process. In medical education, evaluation serves two purposes:

  1. to assess student performance
  2. to provide the information needed to continuously enhance each student's performance.

The assessment component determines whether each student is acquiring the appropriate knowledge and skills to function as a competent physician and is developing the values, attitudes and behaviours that characterize the high standards of the medical profession.

The rest of this entry only addresses the first of the core meanings, that of student assessment of their experience. Student evaluation in the sense of assessment of student's knowledge and progress is addressed elsewhere under assessment of students' learning.

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