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Unit and Teaching Evaluation Instrument (UTEI)

UTEI for students - what does it mean to you?

The Unit and Teaching Evaluation Instrument (UTEI) is an online survey that gives you the opportunity to provide feedback on the content of your units, as well as your satisfaction with your lecturers and tutors. It is a three-part survey given to all students at the end of each semester. The survey includes multiple choice responses and written comments.

Summaries of the responses and the written comments, are made available to the teaching staff, and their managers to enable student satisfaction to be judged, for issues to be addressed and improvements to be made.

Confidentiality

Student names and IDs are not attached to any results. Student comments are included verbatim in the results. UTEI results are only made available to teaching staff once unit grades are submitted. The more detailed the feedback you provide in your comments, the more useful it is to teachers. However, if you are genuinely concerned about being identified, you may want to avoid mentioning issues in a way that clearly identifies you.

What can you say?

The university welcomes fair and constructive comments. It is important to provide feedback in ways that will be helpful. If you wish to criticise a unit and/or a teacher, it is important to do so in a respectful fashion. Criticism of units or teaching should be made constructively. The University reserves the right to delete any offensive or defamatory responses.

Why seek student feedback?

The UTEI is an important part of the University's quality assurance processes. The University uses the UTEI data to review units and the teaching quality, to identify strengths and weaknesses and make necessary improvements. Each year Unit Coordinators are required to review all aspects of their units, including the UTEI feedback, and to critically reflect on any required changes. The outcomes from the reviews flow to the relevant Course Coordinator. The UTEI data is also used in School and Faculty reviews.

The ECU Student Charter states that, "the needs of the students are our highest priority, and the University will seek continuously to improve the quality of its courses and services to students."

Students are in a good position to evaluate teaching and unit quality because most have been immersed in the experience for 12 weeks or more. Student evaluations of teaching staff are not without controversy, but many studies have indicated that student ratings are generally valid and reliable. McKeachie (1997), in a review of a series of articles by noted researchers in the field claims

All of the authors (and I join them) agree that student ratings are the single most valid source of data on teaching effectiveness. (1997, p.1219)

The Commonwealth Government, via TEQSA (Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency) has made it clear that universities need to seek student feedback, and that this will form one aspect of TEQSA's quality monitoring activity.

Does the feedback we give matter?

The feedback that you provide via the UTEI does matter. Teaching staff regard the UTEI information seriously and use it to make improvements to the unit and their teaching. Student feedback can play a role in the career progression of academic staff. It is important to bear in mind that the more students in each class who participate in the process, the more likely the results will be viewed as reliable; and the more considered and constructive the comments, the more likely it is they will be acted upon.

Unit Coordinators are strongly encouraged to acknowledge student feedback, in particular by indicating to new classes how student feedback has played a role in the unit delivery and teaching. Feel free to ask for such information of your Unit Coordinator if it is not already provided.

Access to UTEI reports

All aggregated UTEI unit, lecturer and tutor reports are publicly available.

Why are the UTEI surveys run online?

  • Vast reduction in paper use, and the time taken to handle and process paper survey forms
  • Accessible by students who happen to miss a particular class. With paper-based surveys this was not possible
  • There is some evidence that students provide more and higher quality comments online compared to paper
  • Less valuable class time taken up

Why do I keep being sent email reminders?

The UTEI requires good response rates, more than any other large scale student survey at ECU. This is because the results are often reported in quite small chunks, and for individual teachers. We usually try to avoid distracting our busy students, but the validity and reliability of the results are very dependent on good response rates. Our system is designed to send email reminders only to those students who have not completed a UTEI. If you don't get around to it the first time, we hope any follow-up emails act as a useful reminder.

Why am I being asked to complete a UTEI before I've completed the exam?

The intention of the UTEI is to gather data that can inform the improvements of our units and teaching for the next time. It takes some time to collect the responses, to aggregate the data and to report to the teaching staff. This requires us to have completed the data collection before the semester has actually finished. For standard semester-based units we usually begin the UTEIs in week 12, and send reminder emails over the following weeks. For most units this also gives lecturers and tutors the opportunity to remind students in class of the importance of completing UTEIs.

What if I can't find the correct teachers to evaluate in my online survey?

The Schools are responsible for ensuring the correct teaching staff are entered into the survey system. In the unlikely event that you cannot find the correct teacher (lecturer/tutor) please skip that section of the survey. Your feedback on other sections is still valuable. You can either reply to the invitation/reminder email or contact your school to let them know of the problem.

Who should I contact for further information?

Please email utei@ecu.edu.au.

References
Mc Keachie, W. J. (1997). Student ratings: the validity of use. American Psychologist, 52, 1218 - 1225.

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