University Teacher Perspectives on Student Evaluation of Teaching Surveys

Year: 2019

Author: Laundon, Melinda, Cunningham-Nelson, Sam

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Student surveys are used by all universities in Australia and many international institutions to seek information about student perceptions of learning and teaching. Student evaluation of learning and teaching has three primary purposes. Firstly, to encourage higher education educators to reflect on and improve their teaching practice, curriculum and course design. Secondly, to allow students to voice their opinions and provide constructive feedback on teaching and subjects. Finally, student evaluation data provides important information which can be used to benchmark teacher, subject and degree performance and satisfaction (Goos and Salomons 2017, Spooren et al. 2017).

This study, based on focus groups and semi-structured interviews with 13 academics from course transformation teams, provides insights into tertiary educators’ perspectives on student evaluation of learning and teaching. The study is taking place in the context of a review of evaluation processes. The participants were academics from health courses with roles ranging from lecturer, unit coordinator, subject area coordinator and course coordinator to dean of teaching and learning, totalling 13 participants.

Mirroring the literature, a key preoccupation of focus group participants was the effect of survey response rates on the validity and reliability of student survey results (Spooren et al. 2017). Most evaluation-related literature focusses on the validity and reliability of surveys and there is less focus on the impact on teaching staff in terms of quality of teaching practices and wellbeing. However, this study shows that educators also have significant concerns about the impact of highly critical student comments on staff wellbeing. The major contribution of this paper is to contribute to the under-studied area of the perceived impact of student evaluations of teaching on educator wellbeing.


Goos, Maarten, and Anna Salomons. 2017. ""Measuring teaching quality in higher education: assessing selection bias in course evaluations.""Research in Higher Education 58 (4):341-364. doi: 10.1007/s11162-016-9429-8.

Spooren, Pieter, Frederic Vandermoere, Raf Vanderstraeten, and Koen Pepermans. 2017. ""Exploring high impact scholarship in research on student's evaluation of teaching (SET)."" Educational Research Review 22:129-141. doi: [].