Subject: The Evaluation of Teaching
Group: Institutional
Approved by: Senate
Approval date: 22 September 2009
Effective date: 22 September 2009
Revised: 14 March 2012
Administered by: Provost and Vice-President, Academic & Research

1 — INTRODUCTION

Just as scholarship in one’s discipline requires reading, research, experimentation, presentation of persuasive evidence, and response to critique, so does scholarly teaching require reflection, research, innovation, on-going assessment, and evidence of accomplishment. Mount Allison University is committed to excellence in undergraduate teaching and learning and recognizes that a fair and robust system of evaluation is essential to maintain the high quality of teaching and curricula at the university.

In September 2006, the University Senate passed a resolution on teaching evaluation. Though it has been widely implemented across the university, that resolution has been hampered by a lack of clarity. It did not, for example, specify that a particular evaluation form be used; therefore, various forms and several approaches are currently used at Mount Allison, both paper and online. Lack of consistency and standardization has led to some confusion for both faculty and students.
The university remains committed to developing and implementing a system of teaching evaluation that

  • a) reflects and supports both individual styles and disciplinary norms or standards; and
  • b) combines complementary evidence from a variety of sources: student ratings of courses and instruction, peer review, and continuous self-assessment.

While making reference to other sources of feedback, this policy will focus on Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET).

2 — GOALS  
 
Evaluation has several goals relating to the achievement, maintenance, and demonstration of the highest quality of teaching at the university. Specifically, the goals of this policy are the following:

  • a) To articulate the underlying principles of course and teaching evaluation as a means of
    • i. encouraging reflective teaching and continual improvement at Mount Allison,
    • ii. demonstrating that good teaching is valued and supported at the university, and
    • iii. encouraging a culture of transparency and accountability with respect to the evaluation of teaching quality at the university;
     
  • b) To recommend a teaching evaluation form for Mount Allison University that includes both standardized questions and optional additions (See Appendix A);
  • c) To recommend procedures to be used in administering that form to acquire student evaluation of courses and teaching (See Appendix B); and
  • d) To outline and describe the accountabilities of the various stakeholders responsible for the conduct and administration of this policy. These include the following internal stakeholders: current and prospective students, professors, university administration. External stakeholders include alumni, donors, funding agencies, MPHEC, and government.

3 — DEFINITION OF TERMS

Kinds of Evaluation: The terms course evaluation and teaching evaluation, often used interchangeably, are in fact different. Teaching evaluation includes such items as the professor’s disciplinary knowledge, rapport, enthusiasm, accessibility, fairness in assessment; course evaluation includes items that may be beyond the teacher’s influence or responsibility: content, textbook, classroom, schedule, etc.
 
Purpose of Evaluation: Evaluation may take place for two broad, and sometimes overlapping, purposes:

  • Summative evaluation: to make personnel decisions such as, hiring, tenure and promotion, or teaching award decisions
  • Formative evaluation: to gather information designed to inform practice or enhance quality.

Sources of Evaluation: Evaluation data may come from a variety of sources, including students, peers, and professors themselves.
 
4 — GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR STUDENT EVALUATION OF TEACHING

Implicit in the September 2006 Senate resolution that all courses at Mount Allison be evaluated is the expectation that every course at Mount Allison (including continuous learning and spring session courses) will be evaluated each time it is taught. The following principles inform the implementation of that resolution:
 
a) Teaching evaluation at Mount Allison University will be based on evidence collected over time from a variety of sources. 

b) Teaching evaluation at Mount Allison is primarily formative; i.e., it is conducted to provide individual faculty members with the information they require to monitor, maintain, and develop the quality and effectiveness of their teaching and their courses.

c) Teaching evaluation at Mount Allison has summative applications; i.e., information gathered from evaluation provides valuable evidence of accomplishment in hiring, promoting, granting tenure, and adjudicating teaching awards.

d) Evaluation of teaching is multi-faceted, and student ratings are but one part; they should be complemented by peer review, ongoing self-assessment, and reflection.

e) Teaching evaluation procedures at Mount Allison will be conducted in accordance with the collective agreement between the University and the Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA).

f) Teaching evaluation procedures at Mount Allison will protect student anonymity and confidentiality: students will not be required to provide their signature, name, or student number.

g) The integrity of the teaching evaluation process must be ensured and the needs of the various stakeholders supported; therefore, a handbook will be created to emphasize the importance of teaching evaluation and to  

  • i) Provide information for professors on how to reflect on and respond to evaluations to enhance their teaching and how to record their accomplishments in a teaching portfolio;
  • ii) Educate students on the uses of teaching evaluations and help them become better evaluators; and
  • iii) Help administrators interpret evaluations fairly and consistently.

h) To ensure a productive learning environment, individual faculty members are strongly encouraged to gather formative feedback during their courses, using methods and sources of their own choice.

i) Best practice in teaching evaluation involves using information and evidence collected over several years and courses and from various sources—students, peers, and self—and presented within context; therefore, faculty members are strongly encouraged to compile a teaching portfolio that records their development as teachers.
 
5 — IMPLEMENTATION

The Evaluation Form  
Every course at Mount Allison University will be evaluated each time it is taught using the standard Mount Allison Teaching Evaluation Form (See Appendix A), which will contain

  • a) A statement of the purpose of teaching evaluation at Mount Allison;
  • b) Core questions that will appear on every form; and
  • c) Optional customized questions, chosen or created by the individual professor to reflect the specific teaching and learning goals or context of the course.

Evaluation Procedure
Teaching Evaluation will normally take place within the last two weeks of class, at a time and date deemed appropriate by the individual professor (See Appendix B).
 
Special Circumstances
While every course at Mount Allison must be evaluated, the standard university evaluation form may not be appropriate for courses which involve individual or independent study (e.g., research projects, studio or music courses). In these special circumstances, other means may be used to obtain student feedback, according to departmental or disciplinary custom.
 
Team-Taught Courses
An evaluation will be conducted for each Mount Allison faculty member on the teaching team.
 
Dissemination of Data
Once compiled, and after final grades have been submitted, a report of the numerically-scored questions will be returned to the individual faculty member.

The written responses to the two open-ended questions (numbers 17 and 18 in the Recommended Teaching Evaluation Form in Appendix A) will be returned to the individual faculty member with the numerical report.

A procedure will be developed whereby faculty members can opt to grant others access to their evaluation data.

6 — RESPONSIBILITIES

a) The Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research, is responsible for the administration of this policy.

b) The Purdy Crawford Teaching Centre will

  • i) to provide information about teaching evaluation, teaching portfolios, and teaching enhancement;
  • ii) provide confidential services to support individual professors in their on-going work to maintain the quality of teaching and learning at the university; and

 
APPENDIX A: MOUNT ALLISON TEACHING EVALUATION FORM
APPENDIX B: RECOMMENDED PROCEDURE FOR ADMINISTERING TEACHING EVALUATIONS AT MOUNT ALLISON UNIVERSITY