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A course evaluation is a paper or electronic questionnaire, which requires a written or selected response answer to a series of questions in order to evaluate the instruction of a given course. The term may also refer to the completed survey form or a summary of responses to questionnaires.
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They are a means to produce useful feedback which the teacher and school can use to improve their quality of instruction. They are beneficial because instructors can review how others interpret their teaching methods, thereby improving their instruction. Typically, these evaluations are combined with peer evaluations, supervisor evaluations, and results of student’s test scores to create an overall picture of teaching performance. Course evaluations are implemented in one of two ways, either summative or formative.
Summative Evaluation occurs at the end of a semester, usually a week or two before the last day of class. The evaluation is performed by the current students of the class. Students have the option to reflect on the teachers’ instruction without fear of punishment because course evaluations are completely confidential and anonymous. This can be done in one of two ways; either with a paper form or with online technology. Typically, in a paper based format, the paper form is distributed by a student while the teacher is out of the room. It is then sealed in an envelope and the teacher will not see it until after final grades are submitted. The online version can be identical to a paper version or more detailed, using branching question technology to glean more information from the student. Both ways allow the student to be able to provide useful and honest feedback. This feedback is to be used by teachers to improve the quality of their instruction.
Formative Evaluation typically occurs when changes can take place during the current semester, although many institutions consider written comments on how to improve formative as well. Typically this form of evaluation is performed by peer consultation. Other experienced teachers will review one of their peer’s instructions. The purpose of this evaluation is for the teacher to receive constructive criticism on teaching. Generally, peer teachers will sit in on a few lessons given by the teacher and take notes on their methods. Later on the team of peer teachers will meet with the said teacher and provide useful, non-threatening feedback on their lessons. The peer team will offer suggestions on improvement, which the said teacher can choose to implement. Peer feedback is given to the instructor typically in the form of an open session meeting. The peers first reflect on the qualities that were good in the instruction. Then they move on to areas that need improvement. Next the instructor will make suggestions for improvement and receive feedback on those ideas.
Benefits for students
Some forms of course evaluation make the individual responses from students or a summary of students' responses about a particular instructor or course available to students as well as instructors. Some student-organized course evaluation services allow only other students to read their peers' comments and do not even make the responses available to instructors. Students can benefit from the ability to review others' evaluations of courses because it can provide them with a better sense of what a particular instructor or class is like. In schools where students have many course options and are free to choose many electives or even design their entire educational program, this sort of information is extremely valuable in making educated decisions about which courses to take.
- Educational program evaluation
- Educational quality
- National Curriculum assessment in the UK
- Teacher effectiveness evaluation
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