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Evaluation of Teaching and Units procedure

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Procedure came into effect on 3 August 2017.

(2) This Procedure is pursuant to the Higher Education Courses policy.

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Section 2 - Purpose

(3) To obtain student feedback on teaching and learning within units using an approved student survey, consistent with the University's commitment to continuous quality improvement in teaching and learning.

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Section 3 - Scope

(4) This Procedure applies to all units undertaken by students enrolled in higher education award courses offered by Deakin University, with the exception of work towards a thesis in higher degrees by research, exchange units, cross-institutional units and those identified as Work Experience in Industry units.

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Section 4 - Policy

(5) Refer to the Higher Education Courses policy.

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Section 5 - Procedure

(6) The University will use a survey approved by the Academic Board to assess students' satisfaction with their teaching and learning experiences and to assist in determining any required actions as part of the continuous quality improvement of teaching and units.

(7) The survey will be administered via the Deakin online student evaluations system by the Strategic Intelligence and Planning Unit and applies to units within scope that are conducted on a semester, trimester or residential basis.

(8) The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education, or nominee, will approve all key communications with students about the evaluation of teaching and units.

(9) Faculties will develop and use additional methods of evaluation of teaching and units, which may include:

  1. peer and industry review
  2. student focus groups
  3. benchmarking within and outside the University
  4. previous evaluations.

(10) Faculty Boards will review results of evaluations using a process determined by each Faculty Board and will determine any required actions as part of the continuous quality improvement cycle.

(11) Units will be evaluated using the University approved student survey each time they are offered, unless an exemption is granted by the Pro Vice-Chancellor Teaching and Learning.

(12) Exemptions from the University approved student survey will require faculties to:

  1. submit a request (using a standard for exemption form template) for each unit to the Pro Vice-Chancellor Teaching and Learning via the Strategic Intelligence and Planning Unit identifying alternative methods that will be used to evaluate the quality of the units and teaching; and
  2. report to the Teaching and Learning Committee where an alternative evaluation has been undertaken as appropriate and any actions taken in response to the outcomes.

(13) Each year the Strategic Intelligence and Planning Unit will provide each Faculty with a list of currently exempted units for review, seeking confirmation that an exemption is still required and alternative mechanisms for evaluating these units are in place.

(14) By the end of each study period, Academic staff will have discussed with students the survey process, its purpose and the value placed on it by the University, and any actions taken as a result of the last evaluation.

(15) Students will receive an initial request to complete the survey, with reminders to non-respondents over a 4-5 week period at the end of each study period as per the survey schedule published by the Strategic Intelligence and Planning Unit.

(16) Faculty administrative staff will be responsible for the identification and data entry of Unit Chairs and teachers each survey period, as coordinated by, and for units identified by, the Strategic Intelligence and Planning Unit.

(17) The Strategic Intelligence and Planning Unit will be responsible for the administration and management of the evaluation process including conducting data quality checks post the survey period, releasing online reports and advising of their availability to staff, maintaining and updating relevant timeseries datasets, and analysing the data. For datasets, timeseries, analysis and related reporting purposes, Trimester 2 and Semester 2 data will be combined.

(18) The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education will be responsible for providing a report on each semester/trimester's results for consideration by the Teaching and Learning Committee.

(19) The Strategic Intelligence and Planning Unit will provide each Faculty and School with reports relating to each of their units and teaching staff outcomes.

(20) The Strategic Intelligence and Planning Unit will provide each identified Unit Chair with reports specific to the units they Chair, including the unit and teacher outcomes.

(21) The Strategic Intelligence and Planning Unit will provide each identified teacher with reports specific to the units they teach into and student evaluations of their teaching.

(22) Unit Chairs will review survey data, and disseminate and discuss unit comments as appropriate with unit teaching staff.

(23) Faculties will review survey data under the supervision of the Associate Dean Teaching and Learning.

(24) Faculty Boards will report the outcome of their review each semester/trimester to the Teaching and Learning Committee, in a form prescribed by that Committee.

(25) The Committee will consider what additional actions, if any, should be taken by faculties and provide a consolidated report, including any necessary recommendations, for consideration by the Academic Board.

(26) The Academic Board will use the student survey reports to direct quality assurance and continuous quality improvement in teaching and learning.

Evaluation of teaching

(27) Teaching staff, their Performance Planning and Review (PPR) reviewers and Heads of School will use student evaluation data to identify and implement improvements to the quality of teaching and to recognise and reward high performance and achievements.

(28) The Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning will review teaching performance across the faculty, with assistance from Heads of Schools.

Evaluation of units

(29) The Unit Chair, relevant course/discipline advisory board, Head of School, Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning and Faculty Executive Dean and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education will consider survey data and will:

  1. assess this information against school, faculty and University averages and previous evaluations of the unit
  2. determine any required actions to improve the quality of units.

Confidentiality

(30) The University will ensure that survey data identifying individual students is kept confidential at all times subject to the exception in clause 33. Student identification will be used only to follow up survey non-respondents and to link to student attributes as recorded on the student management system for the purposes of further analysis of results by various student cohorts. Student identification will only be available to staff who require the information to fulfil these duties.

(31) Where a Unit Chair or teacher believes that a student comment constitutes a significant risk to the safety of staff or students, including that of the student themselves, or is abusive, demeaning or threatening, they should consult with a senior staff member in their Faculty. The senior staff member may then notify the Dean of Students to investigate and/or request the editing or removal of the comment.

(32) The Dean of Students will determine whether the appropriate course of action is to:

  1. contact the student as provided in clause 33, and/or
  2. edit the comment and add the statement ‘This student response contained wording that was deemed unacceptable and the response has been edited’, or
  3. replace the comment  with ‘This student response has been deemed unacceptable and has been removed’.
Any changes to datasets will be facilitated by the Strategic Intelligence and Planning Unit upon request of the Dean of Students.

(33) The identity of individual students will remain confidential unless their comments indicate a significant risk to their own safety, or the safety of other students or staff. In this situation, the Dean of Students only is given access to the identity of that student so that appropriate steps can be taken to ensure the student’s safety or that of others.

(34) The University will ensure that survey data about the performance of individual teachers will be kept confidential. Survey data about a teacher's performance will be available to the teacher, the Unit Chair and their PPR reviewer, and any other staff who require the information to fulfil their duties.

(35) The University will make aggregated and summarised survey information publicly available.

Feedback to students

(36) Faculties will provide feedback to students on the evaluation of teaching and units each time the unit is offered. Feedback will include:

  1. unit quantitative survey outcomes and any actions taken as a result of evaluation processes (the Strategic Intelligence and Planning Unit will provide publicly available reports on unit quantitative outcomes, with reports displaying only where there are at least 10 responses, and advise students of the reports availability each survey period)
  2. a reference to the University's Evaluation Results website.

(37) As a minimum requirement, Academic staff will provide feedback through:

  1. the Unit Guide
  2. discussions in classes by the end of the following trimester or study period.

Course approval and review processes

(38) Evaluation data will be used, where appropriate, in the course approval, major course review and annual course review processes.

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Section 6 - Definitions

(39) For the purpose of this Procedure:

  1. Higher education award course: a course that leads to a higher education award of Deakin University.
  2. Study Period: a defined teaching and study period specified by a faculty for the completion of a unit for a particular course. This may be a trimester or semester.
  3. Unit: a component of a course which is normally worth one credit point; one quarter of a study period's full time workload; and is one study period in duration.
  4. Unit guide: a reference for students providing specific information or instruction about a unit.
  5. Work Experience in Industry: Work undertaken by a student that is done as part of, or in connection with, a course of study undertaken with a provider, in respect of which student learning and performance is not directed by the provider, and the purpose of which is to obtain work experience relevant to the course of study.