Section 3.2.3 Reason for Evaluating

Section 3.2.3 Reason for Evaluating

Section 3.2.3 Reason for Evaluating

Universities face greater pressures to change their practices of teaching and research:

  • market pressures to meet industry and student demand
  • government pressures to be more accountable for their use of decreasing public funds
  • accreditation pressures to meet professional standards
  • technological pressures to use online learning
  • academic pressures to maintain international status in teaching and research (Broadfoot 1998).

While quality in research is largely achieved by peer-review processes external to the lecturer’s university and outside the purview of university administrators, quality in teaching remains internally monitored, evaluated, and controlled (Langbein, 2008).

Lecturers are increasingly answerable for the quality of teaching and the learning experiences of their students because of the emerging consensus that institutions ‘have a responsibility towards their actual and potential students . . . prospective employers of those students, {and} . . . the wider community’ (Hindess, 1991, p. 18).

As a result, universities around the world are increasingly using the output from SET as a low-cost indicator of teaching quality for use in benchmarking and performance-based funding (Ginnsa, Prosserb, & Barriea, 2007), as well as for quality assurance of modules and programmes. (Coffey & Gibbs, 2001).

Arthur (2009) suggests that in the UK this has elevated SET into a means of providing public accountability for standards in universities.

SET in Ireland

Moore and Kuol (2005) reported that use of SET data for quality and accountability purposes has been slower than elsewhere, with few universities in Ireland having an established, centralised feedback system. However, growing pressure from emerging policy and legislation such as the call for institution-level feedback systems in the Bologna Declaration and the recent report of the National Strategy Group on Higher Education (2011) (i.e., the Hunt Report) suggests this may change very shortly.

Activity 3.2.3

“Student evaluations of teaching in higher education have become a key mechanism of accountability and quality assurance. Accountability is both a ‘cherished concept’ and a ‘chameleon’, with contested meaning because of its financial, ethical, legal and normative dimensions”. (Blackmore, 2009)

Look at Hendry & Dean (2001) & Blackmore’s (2009) articles on the issue of accountability. What are the potential consequences for... as a lecturer?

...your students?

...Third-level institutions in general, and UCD in particular?

Submit your answers


Hunt Report:

Hendry, G. D. & Dean, S. J. (2001). Accountability, evaluation of teaching and expertise in higher education, International Journal for Academic Development, 7(1), 75 — 82

Blackmore, J. (2009). Academic pedagogies, quality logics and performative universities: evaluating teaching and what students want. Studies in Higher Education, 34(8), 857–872

Back to 3.2.2 Continue to Section 3.2.4 Back To Section 3

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