The role of student evaluations of teaching in the improvement of assessment
Boersema, Nelmari Louise
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Global concerns have arisen regarding the quality of higher education. As a part of the concerns regarding teaching and learning the aspect of assessment receives continuous criticism. Traditional methods of assessment are not sufficient to address all the changing needs of students anymore. Students are often viewed as customers or stakeholders in the process of higher education which need to be satisfied. When such a perception is held it is necessary to determine their needs and expectations. One way in which their voices could be heard is by means of student evaluations of teaching (SETs). SETs are a measurement instrument through which students are able to give feedback to their instructors. The primary objective of this study was to determine the reliability of the results of the section on assessment from the SETs and to evaluate whether assessment is improved based on the results of the assessment section of the SETs. The literature study firstly focused on quality in higher educations and the role that students can play in the improvement thereof. The validity and reliability of SETs as a measurement instrument were then determined. The second part of the literature study was on the aspect of assessment in higher education and specifically on assessment in accounting education. In this study a mixed methods approach was followed to collect, analyse and discuss data. With a mixed methods approach both quantitative and qualitative research methods are employed. A research questionnaire was used in order to collect quantitative data with regards to students’ perceptions of SETs. By means of non-probability convenience sampling the study sample selected existed of 428 students. Thereafter a document analysis of SETs was conducted to collect data with regards to assessment from the SETs. The qualitative data was obtained by means of research interviews. The purpose of the interviews was to gain insight into instructors’ perceptions and use of SETs. Interviews were conducted with a study sample of 8 instructors, selected through non-probability purposive sampling. The quantitative research methods indicated that students believed that SETs are generally an effective way to evaluate instructors and that they are generally serious and unbiased when completing it. It further indicated that the section of SETs regarding assessment received lower average ratings than the other sections of the SETs. With the qualitative research methods it was found that although instructors generally believe that SETs are an effective way in which students can give feedback on their instructors they had a lot of concerns regarding the use thereof. It was further established that instructors are hesitant to change their assessment practices as a result of feedback received from SETs. This study contributes to the SET literature in general and specifically with regards to assessment in the field of accounting. Several recommendations were made with regards to the improvement of assessment in higher education and the role that SETs can play in the enhancement thereof.