A List of Questions that May Frequently Be Asked
What does SET stand for?
SET is an acronym for Student Evaluation of Teaching. On this web site, SET refers to end-of-term, summative course evaluation.
What does summative mean?
Summative means whole or aggregate; summative course evaluation means evaluation of the course as a whole, in all of its parts. A summative evaluation is a cumulative, overall evaluation of performance. Summative is often distinguished from formative. Formative evaluation is an ongoing process, one that can occur from time to time during the semester, with the goal of giving useful feedback to the instructor.
This web site talks about summative assessment. Where can I find out about formative assessment?
CELT has resources on different kinds of formative assessment, including Classroom Assessment Techniques and the Plus-Delta Technique. In addition, simple measures of formative assessment can include the following, compiled from http://teaching.berkeley.edu:
- Ask students if they understand what you are saying
- Call on students to paraphrase or to summarize
- Ask questions during lecture
- Give students problems to solve during class time
- Reserve the last 10 minutes of class for questions
- Schedule an oral quiz with each student
- Schedule individual appointments with students
- Assign "minute papers" at the end of class
- Use index cards to get feedback
- Use a question box to solicit comments or problems
- Attend or lead lab or discussion sections yourself
- Have students turn in their lecture notes
What are the key things to know about conducting SET?
- Research has demonstrated that well-developed SET instruments are valid and reliable.
- SET can be used, adapted, or developed to suit institutional and departmental needs
- Users of SET need to understand their purpose and use
- Evaluation criteria, lines of responsibility/reporting, process and procedures, including grievance procedures, must be clearly presented and agreed upon
- Sound evaluation decisions require multiple sources of information
- Ratings data should be reviewed and systems validated regularly
- Formative evaluation should be confidential and kept separate from summative decision-making.
- In summative decisions, compare teachers on the basis of data from similar teaching situations. For example, SET responses and comments are affected by class size.
Are there practices that should be avoided when doing SET?
This response is adapted from advice given by Ed Nuhfer, Director, Center for Teaching and Learning, Idaho State University
In general, both faculty and students should be asked to offer their judgment on areas where they have expertise. For example, students can be asked about their experience of the teacher-student relationship; classroom environment; instructional practices they experienced; level of student engagement (e.g., amount of effort expended, time spent on studying, workload, and difficulty), etc. Faculty, by contrast, have authority and expertise in can be asked about content, curriculum, and course design.
Questions in a SET should not ask student to judge characteristics beyond their experience/expertise.
Questions should measure only one thing (not, for example, "The instructor is punctual in meeting class and office hour responsibilities").
And of course, vague, nonspecific, or jargon-filled questions should be avoided.
How can students be prepared for SET?
- Students may be surprised by end-of-term evaluations that ask for their thoughts on their own motivation, student-teacher interaction, and so forth. To prepare students, instructors may consider adding to their syllabus a paragraph such as:
"At the end of this term you will be asked to evaluate your learning experience in this class. A list of X open-ended and Y close-ended questions will ask about [the instructor's actions, your motivation and effort, course assignments, the time you invested in the course] and other items."
- In addition, formative evaluations done during the course will prepare students to reflect and report on their learning.
When and where should SET take place?
- It is advisable to conduct end-of-term SET the week prior to the last week of the course
- SET can be administered electronically, but research shows that response may be low, depending on how students are asked to respond
- Administering a SET should take about 10-15 minutes
- Enough time should be allotted for students to answer open-ended and well as close-ended questions
How should a SET be conducted?
- A Likert-style scale should be used consistently, with responses 5-1: strongly agree; agree; neutral; disagree; strongly disagree. A sixth response may be added indicating "Not applicable" or "No data"
- Questions should be consistent, phrase positively, and limited in focus
- SET should elicit responses and data that only students can give
- Instructors should insure student confidentiality by leaving the classroom when the SET takes place
- A proctor may be assigned if necessary, for example in a large class or if there has been any student-teacher conflict during the semester
Do students "grade" professors on popularity, looks, or ease of grading?
Research in this field suggests that several variables, including personality and grading leniency, have minimal effect on evaluation results. For more information, see the Effective Practices section.
Does ISU provide a centrally-supported online tool for Student Evaluation of Teaching?
Yes! Class Climate was licensed for university-wide use starting spring 2011. Class Climate is jointly supported by Information Technology Services and the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.