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Evaluating your teaching

Like students, academic staff can benefit from evaluation of their work. Evaluation should be a formative activity, aimed at improving teaching and courses, and hence the quality of student learning. While evaluation can be self-initiated, it is most useful when it is based on a combination of inputs from yourself, your colleagues and your students.

Self evaluation is easy to conduct, and can be surprisingly informative. One method of self-assessment is simply to keep a journal in which to write down an appraisal of each class immediately it finishes. Points to consider are the extent to which your initial objectives were met and why, techniques which did and did not work, and points at which the students appeared lost. A more elaborate technique is to videotape some of your classes and view them later with the same points in mind. Videotapes can also alert you to unconscious distracting mannerisms of speech or gesture.

Peer evaluation can also be greatly facilitated by the use of videotape. A colleague viewing a tape with you may observe weaknesses and strengths you might miss, and may be able to suggest alternative techniques and strategies from his/her own experience. More simply, colleagues can offer useful criticisms of your plans for subjects or individual teaching sessions.

Student evaluation can operate at many levels of formality. At UTS, it is a requirement that academics gain student feedback on their teaching in at least one subject each semester and discuss this with their academic supervisor as part of their work planning and review process. The most common way of collecting student feedback is by using the Student Feedback Survey questionnaires organised through the Planning and Quality unit. Typically the ordering process is co-ordinated by your Faculty, but you may wish to organise additional questions on your survey or use other methods which complement these formal questionnaires. It is useful, for example, simply to ask students for their opinion of a particular teaching method you have employed, or to ask them whether an explanation is clear. UTSOnline can also be used for creating customised surveys to ask students about particular issues.