Section 4.1 Approaching Evaluation

Section 4.1 Approaching Evaluation

Section 4.1 Approaching Evaluation

As established in Section 2 SET can potentially be used for the four main purposes of (Richardson, 2003; Chen and Hoshower, 2003):

  • a formative or diagnostic feedback mechanism
  • a summative or quantitative feedback mechanism
  • a source of information for prospective students when selecting course units and lecturers
  • a source of data for research on teaching.

Due to this ability to serve a number of functions it’s important to clearly establish the purpose for conducting the evaluation at the outset, since the formative or summative nature (See Section 3) will influence the aims, objectives, and design of the process (Hounsell, 2003) and as Patton (1997) affirms “the same data seldom serves both purposes well” (p.78).


If essentially formative it is more likely that the lecturer will perceive SET as an opportunity to identify not only strengths, but also weaknesses, and to welcome constructive criticism or comments from their students.

If essentially summative it is more likely that the lecturer will perceive SET as an opportunity to demonstrate their success and place less emphasis on the weaker aspects of the module or their teaching.


This distinction is important because regardless of the institution’s stated purpose, the most important factor is what the lecturer believes the purpose to be (Edström, 2008). Consequently a feedback system designed to be formative, but perceived to be summative, will be less likely to generate formative, developmental information.


Activity 4.1

Consider the following questions based initially on your present, and subsequently on your future, experiences of SET:


Present SET Future SET
What is SET being used for?
What is the focus of your SET?
How are data generated reviewed and implemented?
How do students view the impact on teaching and learning? Why is this, and how can this be changed?

Back To Section 4 Continue to Section 4.2

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