Procedure for course evaluations – University of Copenhagen

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Social Sciences > About the Faculty > Quality Assurance > Evaluation > Course evaluations

Procedure for course evaluations

Purpose

The purpose of the course evaluation is to provide lecturers, study boards and management with knowledge of the learning outcomes of the study programme’s elements, in order to continuously improve the courses and guarantee students the best possible conditions for learning and for completing their studies. Course evaluations are designed to assure the quality of the courses and create a solid basis for future enhancement. The faculty places great emphasis on the evaluations as a means of guaranteeing positive conditions for student learning and lecturer engagement.

The basis for the procedure

The Faculty of Social Sciences’ procedure for course evaluations is based on:

All ECTS credit accumulating study activities are evaluated

Course evaluations comprise all ECTS credit accumulating study activities; incl.:

  • bachelor and master’s projects
  • master’s theses
  • field work
  • academic internships

Frequency of evaluations

The Faculty places great emphasis on the evaluations as a means of guaranteeing favourable conditions for student learning and lecturer engagement. Thus, course evaluation is conducted at the end of each course cycle.

A subject element is normally evaluated twice during the process – at the mid-way point and at the end.

The purpose of the mid-point evaluation is to make improvements and adjustments to a subject element while it is running. The mid-point evaluation provides lecturers with tangible and specific indicators that they can use to change the content and/or form of teaching for the rest of the semester.

The purpose of the final evaluation is to contribute to future improvements and adjustments to the courses, and to provide study boards, programme management and all other stakeholders with information about the subject element and the teaching.

The evaluations therefore have a dual purpose. They provide a “snapshot” of current teaching and also establish a basis for knowledge about how to develop the course in the future – both in the short and longer term.

Process

The faculty’s policy is to conduct evaluations each time a new course element is run, and at least every second time thereafter. The head of studies is responsible for the details of the evaluation plan.

Choice of evaluation form and data acquisition

The individual study boards organise and implement the course evaluation in a way that takes into account the courses’ specific characteristics and the study board’s requirements.

The boards of studies discuss the perceived concepts of teaching quality on the basis of which teaching quality will be evaluated and ensure consistency between the purpose of the evaluation, perceived concept of teaching quality and the actual evaluation practice.

The study boards participate in dialogue about this with the lecturers and in relevant staff forums, and regularly exchange experiences in the heads of studies forum. The students are guaranteed influence through student representation on study boards.

In addition, students may be involved in the development of the assessments through the courses in which they participate. The board of studies decides the role that lecturers must play in the collection of data.

In relation to choice of method of evaluation and the formulation of questions, importance is attached to the fact that the results of the evaluations are application-oriented and that they are shown to students.

The study boards work continuously to improve the evaluation methods. There may be advantages in a degree of consistency in choice of method and in the questionnaires, as this will make it possible to compare results over a period of time. Online evaluations facilitate surveys of everybody on a course as well as automatic registration of their responses.

To ensure a high response rate, the course evaluation may be made in class. The board of studies is responsible for ensuring that evaluation tools available (such as questionnaires) are updated and maintained.

The goal is to devise good overall evaluation systems

Final evaluations - evaluation form

On all study programmes, the final evaluation is based on information gathered from students via questionnaires. Final evaluations focus on quantifying:

  • whether students think they have fulfilled the objectives described for their      courses
  • learning activities and teaching material

  • interaction between lecturer and students

To ensure that the evaluations relate to the academic and educational objectives, the descriptions are usually cited in the questionnaire.

Other aspects may be included in the evaluation depending on the specific needs of the individual study programme or subject element.

Communication about purpose and results

Heads of studies are responsible for ensuring that the purpose and results of the course evaluations are communicated to lecturers, administrators and students. Communication about the purpose and result may take place through several channels; e.g. the KUnet website of each respective study programme, questionnaires, e-mails, meetings and via the lecturers. The board of studies decides how to communicate purpose and results.

For example, first lesson may begin by the lecturer informing the students about any and all changes that, compared to previous course cycle, have been made to the course as a result of the evaluations or parts of the lecturer’s teaching style that the lecturer plans to change as a result of previous evaluations.

Response rates

The response rate is mainly secured by carrying out evaluations in class and by regularly involving students in the evaluation process. Ongoing efforts are being made to improve the response rates. Response rates are the focus of attention when choosing the method of evaluation, and communication about the purpose and result of the course evaluations also aim to increase response rates. Ways of increasing response rates are considered regularly by the boards of studies, the departmental managements, the Programme Coordinators’ Forum, the Heads of Studies Forum as well as by the Faculty management team.

Drafting course evaluation reports

The head of studies prepares an annual course evaluation report in maximum three pages summarizing the most recent academic year. The head of studies ensures that the definition of the categories A, B and C reflects the purpose of the course evaluations, the perceived concept of teaching quality and the actual evaluation practice. The Faculty has a template that must be used for course evaluations.

Course evaluation reports place courses of study into one of three categories: A, B and C.

  • A: An exemplary course of study with particularly good evaluations
  • B: A satisfactory course
  • C: A course with serious problems in one or more areas, which the programme      management or department management must address.

The board of studies determines how the head of studies apply categories A, B and C. The heads of studies are responsible for the study boards receiving detailed information about the individual courses and classes.Steps to follow up on course evaluations are described in the course evaluation report.

The course evaluation report must be approved by the Dean.

Category A

A means that the evaluations are particularly good, e.g. the lecturer took exemplary initiatives and there are positive experiences that can serve as a source of inspiration for other lecturers or subject elements.

Category B

B means that unsatisfactory aspects are identified. This type of evaluation does not preclude proposing improvements and adjustments to the lecturer – but in principle, taking the initiative is up to the lecturer.

Category C

C indicates that multiple aspects of the programme have problems so serious that improvements will have to be made under the supervision of the programme management and/or department management (depending on the nature of the problem). C can also be given if there is need to change aspects of a subject element other than the teaching, e.g. the course content, entrance requirements, the academic level or the extent of the teaching.

Publication of course evaluation reports

The evaluation reports are published on the department website on 1 December every year. This gives staff, students and external stakeholders the opportunity to see the results and the follow-up plans. It also provides the general public with an insight into evaluation procedures and quality assurance in the faculty.

As evaluations often involve considerable back-and-forth correspondence, publication involves a certain amount of aggregation of results in order to comply with the Data Protection Act.

However, for some courses, it is not as meaningful to reproduce the results in aggregated form, as the courses cover a wide range of subjects.

Follow-up on the results of course evaluations

In cooperation with the head of department and the board of studies, the head of studies is responsible for ensuring that steps are taken to follow up on course evaluations. The study board is responsible for decisions on follow-up work concerning planning courses, academic content, exams and amendments to curricula.

The head of studies is responsible for individual lecturers and/or course co-ordinators receiving detailed information on their individual courses and classes so that they can follow up on the evaluations.

The head of studies is responsible for ensuring communication to and with students, lecturers and other players and stakeholders about the result of and steps taken to follow-up on the course evaluations. The Faculty’s offer of skills development for lecturers is described here: http://samf.ku.dk/fakultetet/kvalitetssikring/undervisernes-kompetencer/underviserne/kompetenceudvikling/. Likewise, it is described how it is ensured that offers of skills development correspond to needs and how the Faculty documents initiatives in relation to skills development.

Particular attention is paid to assistant professors’ evaluations. Their supervisors are informed of the results so that they can be incorporated into the supervision and assessment of the assistant professors.

The head of studies informs the head of department of evaluation results and other results from the courses on an ongoing basis. This ensures that the head of department is knowledgable of all matters relating to the individual staff member’s teaching and any need for further development; e.g. in connection with performance and development reviews. The head of department is responsible for ensuring that steps are taken to follow up on the course evaluations, particularly in relation to competences of the permanent academic staff.

A category B evaluation does not preclude proposing improvements and adjustments to the lecturer – but in principle, taking the initiative is up to the lecturer.

Follow-up on category C evaluations

The head of studies is responsible for the head of department receiving detailed information on courses and classes in category C, so that the head of department can follow up on the evaluations.

If the problems relate to personnel issues (e.g. lack of punctuality or failure to grade assignments on time), a category C evaluation will lead to an interview between the head of department and the lecturer.

Staff matters are the joint responsibility of the head of studies and the head of department, the head of department being responsible for permanent academic staff and the head of studies being responsible for part-time academic staff.

In other cases, e.g. the use of educationally inappropriate teaching methods or evaluations that indicate the need for adaptations to the form of teaching or other adjustments to the individual course, the head of studies and the lecturer, through dialogue, agree on a mutually acceptable solution. If the head of studies and lecturer fail to agree on a solution, the head of department is brought in. The heads of studies discuss the need for relevant continuing and further education for staff, at regular meetings with the associate dean for education.

In all cases, the emphasis is on reaching unambiguous agreement. For example, it may be agreed that the lecturer is sent on a course or placed under peer supervision, or that some other kind of skills-development process is initiated.

The actual course evaluation reports show that in each of the category C cases, targeted initiatives have been implemented to address specific issues.

Allocation of responsibilities

The lecturer must:

• keep informed of the results of the course evaluations of their courses.
• decide on the basis of the course evaluation whether they should revise their teaching in future or work on skills development.
• involve the head of studies, if the evaluations suggest that changes to the course or the study programme are needed.
• ensure that the purpose and the result of the course evaluations are communicated to lecturers, administrators and students.

The head of studies is responsible for:

  • drawing up course evaluations in line with the University of Copenhagen’s      guidelines and the faculty guidelines (as described here).
  • ensuring that the course evaluations lead to conclusions and possibly decisions,      including whether the study board should take action and what form this action should take
  • ensuring that the results of course evaluations are distributed to all relevant      stakeholders and made public
  • ensure that steps are taken to follow up on the course evaluations, particularly in relation to competences of the academic staff

The dean is responsible for:

  • publishing the course evaluation reports
  • approve the course evaluation reports
  • ensuring that the Faculty of Social Science’s guidelines for the area are revised      if necessary