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VOICES Bi-Monthly Magazine of the University of Technology, Jamaica |

February 2017


Why Student Evaluation Matters

By Dr. Winsome Russell,

AVP, Academic Management


tudent evaluations provide the opportunity for students to provide

anonymous feedback on the quality of instruction and courses/

modules. Student feedback plays a critical role as part of a University’s

Quality Enhancement Framework and is a valuable source of information

for formative as well as summative purposes. The evidence provided by

summative evaluations is important for use in promotion of staff, teaching

awards and internal and external reporting requirements such as that of

an Accrediting Organization. Student evaluations can be carried out by

means of surveys, which is quite popular. Other methods include student

consultations, focus groups and Classroom Assessment Techniques such

as the Minute Paper.

The importance of student evaluations is also demonstrated by other

means, some of these include the following:

Used to improve the quality of courses of study/modules, for future

students, by revising them to make them more relevant and including

more effective instructional strategies

Used as an input to a curriculum management plan

Provides valuable input in the accreditation of courses

Used as one of the criteria for the promotion of faculty

Ensures that the learning experience of students is of a high quality

Identifies areas for improvement in lecturers’ delivery of modules

Ensures that the University achieves a high standard in the student’s

learning experience

Students sometimes view the evaluation as a meaningless activity. Why

is this so? Usually this perception is from the lack of feedback hence

students are not aware of any enhancement to the quality instruction,

classroom environment or to their academic unit. The following is a sample

of comments by students who completed evaluations at UTech, Ja. in the

paper based mode for Semester 2, Academic year 2010-11. The comments

relate to their lack of interest in participating in evaluations.

‘Give feedback of overall evaluation to address whatever issues found’

‘There is no improvement in teaching from this evaluation. It is just wasting

time, money and paper’

‘This survey is unnecessary and tedious as nothing will be done to adjust

this module’

Comments on the content of the module are also instructive with respect

to areas for improvement as indicated by the comments from one student:

‘The content of the module was very confusing; this course is very irrelevant;

the workload of the module is too much and it does not apply to my course;

the course cannot be related to real life situations’

The comments that have been provided by students over the years indicate

areas for improvement but commendations are also given as indicated by

the two comments below:

‘The strategies employed in Semester 2 of this module were very helpful in

developing my reading; good module enhanced my comprehension’

‘The lecturer did an excellent job; the module was a good one; the course

represented that of real life situations’

At UTech, Ja. lecturers are given a score out of 50 for student evaluations

and the following bands indicate performance: 42-50 excellent; 32-41.9

acceptable; 31.9 and below not acceptable. A separate score is provided

for the evaluation of the module and can be combined with the former to

give the overall rating.

The average ratings obtained by lecturers in the five Faculties and three

Colleges* over the four academic periods 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14

and 2014-15 indicated the following:

Over the four year period approximately 52% of lecturers were given

a rating of excellent and 45% given an rating of acceptable. The latter

scores, however, were toward the high end of the scale for acceptable.

Three percent (3%) received a rating of unacceptable and this was in one

school. The comments of students are also reviewed and these provide very

valuable input in corrective measures that need to be taken.

The Office of Curriculum Development and Evaluation (OCDE) provided

Schools with guidelines for administering the paper based survey instrument

and these guidelines require the Schools to ensure that feedback is provided

to students. This is not always carried out by all academic units. The switch

to an online survey over the past academic year has the same requirements

for the provision of feedback to students. Some areas in which the OCDE

has used the feedback from the students’evaluation are as follows:

identify areas of instruction that need to be improved and develop and

offer workshops to help lecturers improve in these areas. One of these

areas is testing and assessment techniques and the development of

learning outcomes that are clear as well as a curriculum which has

relevant content.

Used as a component of the overall evaluation of lecturers who are

nominated for the annual President’s Award for Instructional Excellence


Monitor the use of these results for improvement as indicated in the

Academic Audit Reports.