Evaluation of teaching and courses
At the University of Ottawa, all courses involving at least nine contact hours with the same professor will be subject to an evaluation by students, regardless of the number of students and the teaching method used. If two or more professors teach a course, each professor is evaluated at the end of the portion of the course they have taught, given that this portion consists of more than nine contact hours.
Evaluation takes place on specific dates as the end of term draws near. Shortly beforehand, the deans send out the evaluation instructions and procedures to their professors. Although students may complete the evaluation online at any time during a two-week period, the professor also allocates one 20-minute period of class time, during which he or she leaves the room.
The evaluation process was developed in consultation with the Internal Audit Office. Official forms must be used to conduct online evaluations, unless the Senate authorizes a specific evaluation method or exemption. A customized formative evaluation, comprising 10 questions drawn from an online bank of customized questions, can be added to the official form if the professor wants more precise feedback. Only the professor can see the results of the customized formative evaluation.
Although professors can check participation rates in real time, they do not receive the student comments before the final grades have been issued. Anonymity is guaranteed and the evaluation does not affect student grades.
The University has selected Blue as a platform for online evaluation of teaching and courses. Blue is used by 250 postsecondary establishments, 55 of which were Canadian universities. Created by Explorance, a company founded in 2003, Blue is a multilingual product that boasts a number of interesting features. Online evaluation, itself, offers several benefits, including those listed below.
Why online evaluation?
Online evaluations benefits students, professors and support staff in the following ways:
- online evaluations are more environmentally responsible than paper
- they comply with accessibility standards
- they give students more time to complete the evaluation (two-week window)
- students can complete the evaluation anywhere
- they are compatible with various mobile devices
- they simplify procedures
- they reduce the margin of error
Goals of the evaluation process
- To provide teaching staff with information to help them improve their teaching methods
- To provide information to factor teaching performance into teaching staff appointment decisions
- To give students a way to voice their opinions on teaching, course content and flow
- To give students information about certain aspects of their professors’ teaching styles
- To help the University of Ottawa maintain a high standard of teaching
Benefits of course evaluation
- Improves the quality of teaching at the University
- Measures the success of teaching and courses
- Disseminates student opinions of courses anonymously
- Allows students to select their course wisely and make informed choices
- Improves the quality of student experience in the classroom and in general
- Improves the student experience for future generations of students
The evaluation is made up of two sections: a questionnaire and confidential comments. If the professor wishes to gather more specific feedback, up to 10 more questions may be added, but these answers to these questions will not be included in the official results and will only be seen by the professor.
The questionnaire consists of 13 general questions and 3 questions used for statistical purposes only. The answers are analysed and summarized in four separate reports:
A-Report — Administrators
A professor’s A-Report, which the professor can see online, is placed on file and will be used by the Faculty’s dean and teaching staff committees to annually review the professor’s individual teaching performance, with the past three years’ evaluations considered with a view to establishing a three-year trend . The A-Report contains the following three questions:
- I find the professor well prepared for class (question 1).
- I think the professor conveys the subject matter effectively (question 4).
- I find that the professor, as a teacher is... (question 9).
P-Report — Professors
The P-Report, which only professors can access, contains the tabulated results of all the questions and provides professors with student feedback to help them improve their teaching methods.
S-Report — Students
The S-Report contains the tabulated results of all the questions on the official evaluation form, along with lists of all the courses and professors evaluated during a specific term. As of 1998, the S-Report is published online and is accessible to all faculty members and to all students currently enrolled at the University of Ottawa. To view the S-Report, login to uoZone or VirtuO, click "Services" and then "S-Report – Evaluation of Teaching and Courses".
X-Report — Course of less than six students
The X-Report is created when fewer than six students are enrolled in a course or when less than six evaluations are received for a course. It is generated only when there have been at least six evaluation forms completed over a period of three consecutive academic years or less, for the same course code. Evaluation results from these courses will be used only if a pattern of behaviour can be detected in the evaluations covering the past three years. To establish such a pattern of behaviour, the Administration will rely on at least five of these courses. If a pattern does indeed exist, it will be examined in light of other courses taught by the professor concerned.
Students are invited to fill out the “Comments” section online during the evaluation. These comments are intended for the professor, who will only be able to read them once the final grades are published (a few weeks after final exams). The professor is the only one to see these comments.
Did you know...
- The policy on evaluation of teaching and courses was adopted in 1977.
- More than 650,000 sheets of paper and 20,000 envelopes were used to conduct paper evaluations.
- A customized formative evaluation component was added in 2002 to allow professors to receive more feedback.
- The average participation rate for paper evaluations is 63%.
- The questionnaire was revised and reformulated in 2005 to better fit the variety of teaching methods.