A new Canadian report on student course evaluations – the bane of many university faculty members – concludes that they are valid and useful instruments. However, the report also finds that there are “significant barriers” to the effective use of such evaluations, including:
• Persistent myths and misconceptions about variables affecting evaluation results;
• Unclear concepts and definitions of effective teaching;
• Insufficient education about the goals, uses and validity of course evaluations for students, faculty and administrators;
• Poor presentation and contextualization of evaluation data; and
• Inconsistent and inequitable policies and practices regarding the implementation and administration of course evaluations.
The report, Student Course Evaluations: Research, Models and Trends, is published by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. The authors are Pamela Gravestock, associate director of the Office of Teaching Advancement at the University of Toronto, and Emily Gregor-Greenleaf, a doctoral candidate in the Higher Education Group at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at U of T.
The authors say the report “represents the first review and summary of existing research on student course evaluations from a Canadian perspective.” It includes a lengthy appendix containing sample evaluation instruments from 10 Canadian universities.