Section 3.2.1 Reason for Evaluating

Section 3.2.1 Reason for Evaluating

Section 3.2.1 Reason for Evaluating

For many SET is limited in what it can deliver and flawed in its motivations for doing so. Research has suggested that evaluations are often seen as an end in themselves, with the data they produce either having no purpose other than to provide the appearance of rationality and accountability (Dahler-Larse, 2005), or arbitrarily used in isolation to make important personnel decisions (Moore & Kuol, 2005). While it may be intended that engaging in SET will somehow lead to improvement their teaching practices (Zabaleta, 2007) Edström (2008) reports that following the initial use for reviewing a new module the process becomes ‘a compulsory, empty routine’ (Edström, 2008). In terms of teaching development they have been likened to a type of fire alarm, only heeded when an issue becomes critical (Becker, 2000; Gray & Berger, 2003; Sproule, 2000).

“Too often SET systems have been compulsory, publicly displayed, uncontextualised, unsupported, simplistic and interpreted in isolated ways, features which render SET’s punitive bureaucratic tools rather than supporting mechanisms through which enhanced learning environments can be created and sustained.” Moore and Kuol (2005, p. 147)


It has been suggested that this perception of an empty bureaucratic gesture may be a common barrier to participation (Centra, 1993), an inconsequential administrative exercise in which “someone makes a nice little graph and it's left at that” (Burden, 2008, p1467).


This sentiment is echoed by Hounsell (2003), who states that while effective evaluation leads to genuine change, many evaluation systems give the impression that they are facilitated for the sole purpose of fulfilling a regulatory or administrative obligation and provide little useful feedback for academic in relation to the student learning experience.


Activity 3.2.1

What argument could be used to counter the supposition that SET fails to be useful following the initial review of a new module?

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