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Evaluating Units, Teaching and Curriculum

Quality Assurance iconEvaluation of learning, teaching and curriculum can take a number of forms, suited to a range of purposes. The purpose of evaluation may be formative (focused on providing information for reflection and development) or summative (focused on evaluation of performance). Some forms of evaluation are most suited to the formative purpose, others to the summative purpose, while some can be used for both.

Evaluation of learning, teaching and curriculum is an integral component of the University’s quality enhancement framework and accountability obligations. The findings of evaluation processes inform our assessment of where we are succeeding and where we have opportunities for improvement. There is a need, therefore, to develop an institutional culture of evaluation that is formative as well as summative.

Student feedback plays an important role in this process, enabling University teachers, planners and leaders to obtain information about the student experience at a number of levels, linking it to reflective practice, action and quality enhancement. Typically, universities evaluate student experience internally (at Macquarie, through the Teaching Evaluation for Development Service and Macquarie Analytics) and externally through national surveys such as the Course Experience Questionnaire or the Graduate Destination Survey.

The Learning and Teaching Centre provides resources and guidance to build Faculty and Department capacity for interpretation and constructive use of student feedback and other evaluative methods, for both formative and summative purposes.

The diagram below indicates a number of ways to evaluate the quality of learning, teaching and curriculum and so enhance the quality of student learning and experience. A list of useful links to further information relating to evaluation and a range of relevant resources follows.

diagram - see longdesc

This diagram above shows a vertical axis with 'Formative Evaluation' at the top and 'Summative Evaluation' at the bottom.

This axis is intersected in the middle with a horizontal axis showing 'About Teaching' on the left and 'About Learning' on the right.

In the top left area between 'About Teaching' and 'Formative Evaluation' is the following:

  • Peer evaluation, development and review (e.g. peer observation of teaching)
  • Student feedback (formal and informal)
  • Program, unit and individual critical reflection
  • Benchmarking

In the top right area between 'Formative Evaluation' and 'About Learning' is the following:

  • Feedback from students on their understanding of tasks (e.g. minute papers, quizzes)
  • Interviews, focus groups
  • Logs and diaries
  • Informal feedback
  • Student engagement

In the bottom right area between 'About Learning' and 'Summative Evaluation' is the following:

  • Examination and assessment tasks
  • Progression, retention and completion rates
  • Evaluation of attainment and development of capabilities
  • Feedback from employers

In the bottom left area between 'Summative Evaluation' and 'About Teaching' is the following:

  • End of unit surveys
  • External auditing and peer review
  • Citations and award criteria
  • Teaching Quality Indicators
  • Performance Development and Review

Useful links

Evaluating your teaching and unit

Student evaluation and feedback

Quality enhancement and assurance

Using evaluation for development of teaching and curriculum

Using evaluation for summative purposes

References and further reading

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