Activity: Participating in or organising an event types › Contribution to conference
Beyond Traditional Student Evaluations of Teaching and Units: Seeking Meaningful Alternative Feedback
Australian universities widely use the mandated method of student evaluation of teaching and units as an essential tool to direct the ongoing development of their units. The reliability of this tool, however, has been greatly debated for a number of reasons (i.e., low response rates, gender bias, irrelevant and quantitative standardised questions, popularity context). We see the first year of university as not only a transition into a new academic environment but also as the time when new identities are formed. The current methods used for unit evaluation do not address these components in depth. At the Faculty of Education, Monash University, we run a transition to university diploma course for students in Education, Science , Business, and Nursing and Midwifery. Due to the particular nature of the course, we see it as crucial to have a realistic understanding of the needs of our First-Year students to help with their holistic transition in to university. Data were collected using a reflective assessment task, which required students to respond to a set of questions presenting a a holistic overview of their current university transition experience as well as their life and past school experiences. The data suggest that, despite minor differences, students found the change in their social status and the sudden freedom of adulthood to be highly overwhelming serving as a significant source of frustration. This, in turn, impacted their ability to manage time and use the right study skills, especially if they needed support in these areas. Those who developed meaningful relationships with peers and the academic staff were able to find their way thorough the struggle and ultimately adjust to the new context. None of this information - crucial for how we structure and teach our units - was available through the traditional student evaluations. We argue that multiple forms of students evaluations are necessary to provide meaningful feedback to unit designers and those teaching within the units.