How to Evaluate Teaching Effectiveness

How to Evaluate Teaching Effectiveness

Should teacher evaluations be abolished? Should students no longer have to fill them in anonymously? Or are there other solutions to make the evaluations more effective?

Was the teacher expert, was the education interesting and inspiring? After each course, students complete a questionnaire and tell them how they feel about it.

How to Evaluate Teaching Effectiveness
How to Evaluate Teaching Effectiveness

In the meantime, many teachers are judging by their scores. The results of the evaluations not only affect the mood of teachers but also their careers: they play a role in performance and appraisal interviews. And education does not even benefit, according to many. So it has to be different, many teachers think, but how?

How can teacher evaluations be improved?

  • 1. Abolish?

The most radical solution, of course, is to completely eliminate teacher evaluations. In our survey, nearly 18 percent of respondents were so disappointed that they did indeed argue for it: they did not find the evaluations useful, not even “in a different way.” “Abolish !!!”, writes a teacher with exclamation marks and all.

“Humiliation by a lazy group of young people. There may be some more respect. We also want to judge students on their attitude, handwriting, and intelligence, and that is not allowed either. ”

There are more responses, for example, but to be honest, the vast majority of teachers take a more nuanced view. Yes, there is a criticism of the evaluations. But that does not mean that they have to disappear completely.

  • 2. You can learn to evaluate

Trainer and HBO teacher René van Kralingen does have an idea of how it could be improved. First of all, you have to “not just flat-bomb your students with forms”, but learn how to evaluate something, he thinks.

“I myself give one-day courses to class representatives at all kinds of colleges. And then I explain that education is not the same as getting fries. It is not ‘consuming’. You are not a snack bar visitor who thinks something of his fries, you are a producer in education.

The student and teacher make the education together; you bake those fries together. And so it is important that you not only want to hear an opinion about the teachers but also ask students: what did you do to make it a good education? What efforts have you made, are you well prepared? ”

“You are not a snack visitor who thinks something of his fries”

Sometimes there is a downright culture of complaining among students, says Van Kralingen, “and that is also honored by management because managers are very much focused on student satisfaction.” But students must understand what their own role is, he thinks.

“I always start by saying that they can evaluate me afterward, but that I will also evaluate their efforts at the same time.”

  • 3. Get rid of anonymity?

Such training for students might be a step forward, but this will not reassure all teachers. What is particularly sensitive to most is that the surveys are anonymous. Many teachers feel that they are the target of students who do not have to justify themselves.

“Anonymous bile flushing”, one of the respondents calls the evaluations.

  • 4. Good conversations

But perhaps he underestimates the assertiveness of his own supporters. Teachers’ experiences seem different. On the contrary, they like to be able to look students in the eye. Marijtje Jongsma for example: “What does work are non-anonymous panel discussions.

All students may sign up and criticize. That is constructive. I think students’ critical attitude is fantastic, I have a lot of constructive criticism, which means better education.

  • 5. No dismissal

In all criticisms of the evaluations, it is mainly trickling through that they can easily be misused. “They should be used more to improve the quality of education, not to keep a stick behind them if they want to get rid of you,” someone says. Another is even stronger: “Use during annual appraisals should be prohibited.”

But administrators do not seem to want to give up the evaluations. They like to emphasize that they look at the results of surveys in all reasonableness. “If a settlement culture is created on the basis of evaluations, you must immediately pull the plug. The evaluations are not meant for that. ”

“Isn’t it a bad sign if a teacher is  afraid of evaluations?”

  • 6. And think better

It is somewhat reminiscent of the slogan of the arms lobby in the United States: guns don’t kill people, people kill people. You can also reason that way: it is not the evaluations themselves that depend on their use. If you use it sensibly, there is nothing wrong.

Many teachers agree with that in principle. “I am also lucky with a sensible manager who does not take blind hate too seriously,” one of our respondents writes. But what if you are less lucky?

“Evaluations are published by name and by name,” someone complains. “Teachers’ privacy is not taken into account.” Another teacher writes: “These [evaluations] can determine a permanent appointment.”

  • 7. Required fields?

The lack of interest among teachers is also due to the fact that not all students complete the surveys. If you teach thirty students and only the five dissatisfied students fill in the survey, then the results don’t make any sense anymore.

Researcher Christine Teelken, who has studied the use of educational evaluations: “At VU University Amsterdam, we had a discussion about whether we should make it compulsory: students would only receive a mark if they had completed their evaluations. But that went too far, we thought, so we didn’t do that. ”

This was also reflecting in our survey. “If the evaluations are important, they must also be mandatory,” one of the respondents said. Because the low response affects the credibility of the results. “A bit of a shit, too few fill it in,” says someone, who adds that, moreover, students don’t know what is being done with it.

Even someone who is basically positive about the surveys (“often offers useful insights or tips”) calls the response “often too low or biased.” They are taken too often, she adds. It would make students ‘survey tired’.

  • 8. Peer review

Then Van der Burg suggests an idea that we get to hear from others. “I say we will abolish the current evaluations and come up with a new instrument with only open questions,” he says. “Every teacher is properly supervising and there is a peer review system. That is time-consuming, but it seems to me the best solution. ”

“We will abolish them  and come up with something new”

It would be my preference, especially if you also talk to students in all openness to hear what they think of education – which, incidentally, happens a lot. But that requires the willingness and ability to ask each other for feedback. ”

  • 9. Culture change

Teachers do not always have that ‘willingness and competence’. As far as Boele is concerned, teachers can still learn something from the business community, where he believes it is much more common to evaluate each other. That would, therefore, require a different attitude from teachers.

“Management must dare to let go 

According to her, there must be a culture change in management. “Management likes to keep a grip on professionals, but you don’t want that all the time. You have to dare to let go, and that is very exciting and difficult, especially in these times, now that everything can be measured. How much attention do you give to those evaluations? The relationship is currently lost. ”

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