Evaluations: from monologue to dialogue

by | Jan 23, 2018 | News, Memo | 0 comments

After finishing your exam, you find yet another form. Or you get an email after your exam: please fill in your course evaluations! The University of Groningen regularly asks you for your opinion on a course you just finished. Unfortunately, many students still think “why should I fill them in, they don’t even look at it”.

That’s absolutely not true. Even though evaluations don’t paint a complete picture, the outcomes are useful for teachers, programme committees and policy makers. However, what they do as a result of those outcomes is often unclear. That isn’t a problem unique to Groningen, the Education Ministry concluded (only available in Dutch, unfortunately) that all universities in the Netherlands struggle with the same problem.

Lijst Calimero want students and teachers to engage a conversation about the quality of education. We therefore put forward a memo with three proposals to break through the monologue that course evaluations now are and enable a proper dialogue about quality.

1. Feedback on evaluation outcomes

In a number of programmes, it’s completely normal that the teacher uploads the evaluation outcomes to his or her course on Nestor and gives a short reaction, including possible future changes in the course. Lijst Calimero wants to expand this good example to the whole university. By sharing the outcomes with students that just finished the course as well as those just starting it, it becomes much clearer what is done in response to the evaluation outcomes.

2. Combining evaluation methods

As has been brought forward by the personnel faction in the university council, course evaluations give a far from complete picture of the quality of education. That is why some programme committees combine the course evaluations with other forms, like conversations with student panels or year representatives. This combination appreciated by both students and staff.

Therefore Lijst Calimero wants to provide programme committees with more information on combining multiple evaluation methods. One way to do this is by supplementing the handbook for programme committees with additional information. Since last September, programme committees have the formal right of consent on the way the programme is evaluated. When provided with enough information, they can choose a suitable combination of evaluation methods for their programme.

3. Evaluating the programme as a whole

Just like combining different methods, looking at the programme as a whole contributes to improving the quality of education. Overlap in literature of a lacklustre connection between two courses can only be found looking at the whole programme, to name just two examples. Some programmes already do this, but we feel that all programmes should be thoroughly evaluated. Lijst Calimero therefore proposes to also include information on these so called curriculum evaluations in the handbook. Of course, the outcomes of these evaluations should also be communicated to students.

Evaluation are still a monologue in many cases. Lijst Calimero is convinced that by improving feedback on the evaluation outcomes students and teachers can once again have a dialogue on the quality of education. Furthermore, combining different evaluation methods and evaluating the programme as a whole can contribute to a better picture of our education. All these measures do no only contribute to the quality of education, but also to the willingness of students to engage in the conversation about quality.

Want to read the whole memo with a detailed analysis and implementation plan? You can find it here!