During the 2016/17 academic year you may have been involved in shaping the new approach for Unit Evaluation. The recommended changes were approved at the first Senate meeting of 2017/18, and, this semester's Unit Evaluations will be the first under the new system.
What’s new for this year?
The main change is the number of questions asked of students per unit. For academic units, students are asked ten questions. Of these, there are eight distinct core questions (five quantitative, three qualitative) and two discretionary quantitative questions. Unit convenors will have the option of asking students to answer a teaching effectiveness question for each member of teaching staff on a unit. You can view the standard units, placement units, study abroad and distance learning questions on the Centre for Learning and Teaching website.
After reviewing the 795 questions previously asked, the new question set has been developed through cognitive testing and consultation with staff and students. You may notice that some of the questions share wording with those asked in institution-wide surveys such as the National Student Survey and Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey. This is to aid in comparison and build consistency in data sets.
All optional questions have been themed to assist with decision making. Themes are coded as:
- SE - Seminars
- PR - Practical
- LE - Learning Resources
- RE - Reflective
- TE - Teaching
- LE - Lecturers
- FEA - Feedback and Assessment
- UN - Unit
- MI - Miscellaneous
Whilst these questions provide an improvement from previous years, we will continue to review them throughout this academic year.
Setting up Unit Evaluations
One of the most noticeable changes to the setting up of Unit Evaluation is the removal of templates. With the consolidation and standardisation of discretionary questions, convenors can chose two discretionary questions from a drop-down menu. A full list of optional questions can be found here.
The process for deciding which discretionary questions are asked, and who has responsibility for selecting them (i.e. Unit Convenors, Directors of Study) should be made by Departments through Departmental Learning and Teaching Quality Committees. If your meeting does not fit this time period, please utilise Chair’s Actions following conversations with staff and students where appropriate.
The Likert Scale
The option of ‘Not Applicable’ is being introduced for the question ‘Name - The Teaching was effective in helping me learn’ to allow students to decline to answer for those staff who did not teach them. We’ve also standardised the scoring system to reflect that used by NSS and PTES. This will allow us to provide greater analytical consistency across surveys.
Students providing feedback
Before students are able to complete evaluations, a new requirement for this year is for them to read and sign a statement confirming that they agree to provide constructive feedback. This is to clarify to students what kind of feedback is appropriate, and help address staff concerns around unhelpful and offensive comments.
We would actively encourage you to report any offensive or discriminatory comments to your Head of Department, and to ourselves in the Student Engagement team. We take the issue very seriously, and will be continuing to work with the University Athena SWAN committee and other key staff from across the institution to address both offensive comments and unconscious bias.
All Unit Evaluation reporting data available to students, including scores for the teaching effectiveness question, will be automatically anonymised.
When downloading your Unit Evaluation feedback report, you may notice that you receive more information. Results will now be automatically displayed as percentages, mode and median. Completion rates will continue to be given per unit, showing what percentage of students registered on the unit completed the evaluation. We are also working with the Business Intelligence team to make it easier for convenors to download and analyse their Unit Evaluation data.
Feeding back to students
A key focus of the review was closing feedback loops and making it easier for students to see how convenors response to their feedback. Within eight weeks of the close of the survey unit convenors will be asked to upload their completed reports to the relevant Moodle page for their programme, linked to from the central Unit Evaluation page. If your page is not listed here or has been updated, please let us know. This page will act as a comprehensive and clear source of information on how student feedback influences learning and teaching on units, and students should be clearly signposted to it.
We’re currently preparing to support you with the undertaking of Unit Evaluation during weeks 9 and 10 this semester.
In practice, this will see Unit Evaluation opening and closing as follows:
- School of Management/Foreign Language Centre: 23rd November-11th December
- Faculty of Engineering & Design: 24th November – 12th December
- Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences: 25th November – 13th December
- Faculty of Science: 26th November – 14th December
There is an overlap into weeks 8 and 11 to ensure that strain on the system is managed and spread over four days.
Throughout this process, we will keep you up to date with available support and materials to help promote the evaluation. In the meantime, if you have any questions about any of the changes to Unit Evaluation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.