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Sunday, June 22, 2008

University student teacher evaluations should be publicly available

Professor Ross Guest of Griffith University in The Australian Higher Education supplement last week said we would greatly benefit if we all knew what university students thought about the teaching skills of their teachers, and contrasts our general culture of secrecy with the US where the law requires state funded universities to make such information publicly available:
"Imagine a university world where students knew who were the better teachers and they could vote with their dollars. This would lead to massive shifts in funding to universities and within universities on the basis of teaching quality in the same way that funding follows research quality. There are forces driving us toward this brave new world. Students are likely to demand better data on teaching quality. A portent may be the situation in the US where teaching evaluations in state-funded universities are publicly available under legislation. In Australia FoI applications for detailed teaching evaluation data might be difficult to block. In any case, it is only a matter of time before students threaten to boycott teaching evaluations unless universities commit to publishing the data in full. This has reportedly occurred at one US university at least. We are notoriously reluctant to subject our individual teaching performance to measurement and even more reluctant to publish the results."

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