Student Evaluation of Teaching

SET Goals & Mission

Why take part in the SET?

Expressing an opinion about teaching is not only a right but also a duty of students. As teachers evaluate their students, those students should also do the same, obligations should not be one-sided

Vadim Radaev
First Vice Rector of HSE University (from an interview for the HSE portal (in Russian))


To leave feedback. You can share your impressions of the course and teachers, and describe both positive points and problems. This helps faculty members to understand  better how to develop syllabi and teaching methods, while the University’s administration can better focus on improvements to the educational process.

To help yourself and your coursemates in future modules. You can provide thorough comments on the courses that will continue after the latest SET wave, so that instructors and the programme administration can learn about the course’s possible problems and consider ways on how to solve them.

To evaluate educational innovations. Share your thoughts about new teaching and educational management practices so that they can have more impact on their future implementation.

Should students be able to evaluate their teachers?

Yes, students should be able to evaluate teachers, as this can help to improve the quality of their education and upgrade teaching practices. Feedback from students can provide important information on how teachers can deepen their knowledge and enhance their skills, as well as how they can have more impact on students. However, feedback should be accessible, anonymous and honest, so that students feel comfortable when providing it.

ChatGPT 3.5
AI Chatbot (Retrieved from the interview with AI on “Okna Rosta” (RU))

How does HSE University use SET results?

1. To develop new teaching methods and enhance instructors’ skills


SET is a crucial tool for teachers to gauge the students’ reactions to their work. Through numerical assessments and text comments, teachers can gain valuable insights into how students evaluate their teaching methods, class organization, material delivery, and application of innovative pedagogical techniques. The assessment process can also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of new experiments, such as collaboration platforms, updated assessment systems, game-based learning, or revamped presentation designs.


Most teachers at HSE University focus greatly on analyzing SET results. According to the Teaching and Scientific Life Survey, 80% of them do not just read survey results, but also actively work with assessments and comments:

Source: Teaching and Scientific Life Survey

According to the Survey, the instructors largely rely on SET criteria as “Clarity and consistency of study materials”, “Communication between the teacher and the audience” and “Clarity of requirements to students”.

Source: Teaching and Scientific Life Survey

Text comments are also important for teachers — they explain high or low scores according to numerical criteria or provide completely new information.

Every year, I review and analyze SET scores; I look very closely at the detailed responses and student opinions. It is those comments, which are most useful for developing or reconstructing the syllabus. At the same time, I try to take into account the frequency of certain opinions. The more often certain feedback, comments or proposals are repeated, the higher its value for me and the more likely I will decide on changing something in my course. I look at single negative reviews seriously only if they contain at least some argued statements. If students simply write that they “did not like the lectures” and do not explain why, there is much less confidence in such reviews. In the end, at the University, we learn how to argue our position and justify our judgments, even if they are evaluative.

Alexey Vdovin
Associate Professor: School of Philological Studies

Student feedback is one of the most useful mechanisms that we have. In addition, it is a clear analytical process for students: they do not succumb to some fleeting emotions, do not allow themselves to taste, and speak objectively and to the point; thus, the system works well. Even when they write about an individual: “A very strict teacher, a nightmare,” and about the other: “A very strict teacher, cool,” we understand what they mean. For us, reviews stand as a tuning fork. Of course, we adjust our work with a focus on Student Evaluation of Teaching, especially when we find clear technical comments there: the requirements are not clear enough or the presentation is not entirely visible…

Alexandra Staruseva-Persheeva
Associate Professor at the HSE Art and Design School, Programme Academic Supervisor of Contemporary Art (from the pages of “HSE University Life”)

2. To adjust staffing policy and enhance instructors’ workload distribution

Since completing SET is obligatory, its results are the most reliable source of quantitative data on teaching quality. That’s why SET data are included in KPIs and competitive evaluation criteria for many participants in the educational process.


Student evaluation of teaching is one of the key criteria of the HSE University Competition for Faculty Positions. This is a regular procedure, which every teacher must go through to renegotiate an employment contract, and SET statistics can help to evaluate the results of a teacher's work. Therefore, high SET results can boost the chances of a contract extension, while mediocre ones serve as the “Blocking element of assessment” 🙂

Results of HSE University Competition for Faculty Positions for Three campaigns in 2021 and 2022. The numbers on the columns are presented as a percentage
Results of HSE University Competition for Faculty Positions for Three campaigns in 2021 and 2022. The numbers on the columns are presented as a percentage


There’s also the “three-point rule”: an instructor cannot continue teaching a course in the same format and under the same educational programme next year if they received an average score lower than three in the current SET campaign. Exceptions to this rule can only be made as per the decision of the First Vice Rector (with a joint appeal from the programme’s academic supervisor and the head of the school where a lecturer works).


With this in mind, this rule is not that frequent, but it is an effective tool for preventing major errors in teaching.

Source: Center for Instititional Research


Programme Academic Supervisor

One of the most important tasks of educational programme leadership is to determine which instructors should teach key subjects, what problems and conflicts might arise between teachers and students and how to fix them. As such, programme academic supervisors must closely monitor feedback on faculty staff, and SET is the main source of data for this. As the curriculum development period begins, educational programme leadership should carefully analyze SET data on teachers and make staffing decisions regarding their programme. 

To my mind, SET allows you to collect information from all students of a programme and formulate a consolidated position from the whole group. The level of numerical indicators and student comments make it possible to plan educational processes for the next year with respect to interaction with teachers, changing course content and, in extreme cases, replacing specific teachers for specific courses. In my opinion, the importance of tracking feedback from students cannot be overestimated, but it should be noted that students need to understand the seriousness of this action, because SET is a mandatory tool for evaluating teachers and it directly affects their further teaching activity.

Mikhail Komarov
Academic Director of Master's Programme “Electronic Business and Digital Innovations” (from the material for the HSE University publication “Okna Rosta” (Ru))

The SET mechanism is designed to receive feedback from students within the framework of each academic discipline. For the heads of educational programmes and academic councils, SET data is used as one of the criteria when deciding whether to invite a teacher to conduct a course in the next academic year. It should be noted that the most interesting thing isn’t the grades themselves, but the comments that students leave about the course and teachers.

Aleksandr Vecherin
Academic Supervisor of the “Psychology” Bachelor's programme (from the material for the HSE University publication “Okna Rosta” (in Russian))


Heads of schools and departments

Schools also receive SET data on teachers – this can help them evaluate personnel, select candidates for lecturer positions, and gain a general understanding of how to develop teaching skills.

SET is deeply integrated into the business processes and staffing policy of the HSE’s School of Foreign Languages. We have our own personnel committee, which develops criteria for evaluating teaching skills, such as class assessments. We develop our own additional criteria for the HSE University Competition for Faculty Positions and Tutor Effectiveness Monitoring, and we also regularly attend our instructors’ classes. In each of these processes, we primarily use SET data to document areas that require correction. Student comments often indicate possible problems in communication, content delivery, and testing. Although feedback does not always provide complete information about what is happening in a course, we have learned to apply survey results more in a more universal fashion.

Finally, SET is an important tool for learning how to provide feedback and conduct business communication overall. We always carefully discuss potential changes with students and respond to any constructive proposals. At the same time, we aim to show that difficulties are solved not only by replacing instructors, but also by providing methodological and communication support to teachers and groups. I believe that our approach teaches students to be constructive and specific.

Ekaterina Kolesnikova
Head of the HSE School of Foreign Languages

We carefully work with SET data at all stages of staffing policy. After each SET wave, we further sort and visualize the data of evaluations and comments, help instructors work with these evaluations and offer advice on how to correctly interpret them. When our instructors receive results, we discuss possible changes and directions for development – and this option is open even for those who may have high grades.

Finally, SET data really helps us to not just solve current problems, but to grow and develop something new. We analyze evaluations and comments in detail to create new online courses and consider all students' proposals as to what topics need to be covered and which prominent teachers can oversee them.

Evgeny Sokolov
Head of HSE University’s Big Data and Information Retrieval School

3. To adjust existing courses and to develop new ones


Not only is SET an assessment of instructors and their personal skills, but it is also a tool for collecting feedback on courses, their content and format. With this in mind, SET results give us a wide range of data, which allows us to collect students’ opinions on past courses and carve out approaches to their development.

First of all, the SET data on courses are important to teachers: they are the people, as the courses’ authors, who could easily draw conclusions from students' assessments and understand 1) which topics were most appealing, and which ones need to be adjusted; 2) which control elements helped to consolidate content, and which turned out to be incomprehensible or too complex; 3) whether the online version of a course really helped to highlight the most important information or provide more time for face-to-face instruction, etc. 

Academic supervisors are also active users of SET results on courses: the data from the questionnaire helps to identify how course structure corresponds to the principles of the respective educational programme, as well as how relevant the course materials are and how they expand previously acquired knowledge.

In addition, SET data on courses are important to students themselves and are available at any time: HSE Univeristy has a catalog of the best courses according to SET criteria. This catalog helps students make important decisions, e.g., which elective course is worth attending or how to select a minor.

Source^ HSE University website

SET is an important feedback tool for curriculum designers. Evaluations and comments from students on subjects are very informative. At the same time, it is gratifying to read well-reasoned opinions (whether it be praise or criticism) and constructive suggestions for improving a syllabus or its implementation. Well-reasoned criticism and a formed vision of problem-solving are much more useful – it is better when students focus on this and express their instant emotions less. In this way, students' opinions can be used when redesigning a programme. Moreover, the opportunity for students to leave their comments before completing the course is especially useful, which I call on everyone to do – these positive changes can be felt immediately!

Maria Lytaeva
Head of the HSE Academic Council Commision on Full Degree Programmes, Academic Director of the “Pedagogy” Master’s Programme

4. To update educational programmes’ curricula

SET data on courses and comments on the educational process in general are the basis for developing an entire educational programme. Based on these reviews, a programme’s academic council and academic supervisor gain insight into everything about curriculum development: which courses should be extended, which ones should be reduced or removed altogether; how to set the order of subjects with a view to their complexity; should there be specializations or electives under the programme; what general principles should unite all courses under the programme (e.g., include a block with cases of real companies in each course or completing the academic year with an expedition to a Russian region).

When reviewing SET results, the educational programme leadership should assess the success of certain courses and determine what needs to be modified in their programmes.

Vadim Radaev
First Vice Rector (from an interview on the HSE portal (Ru))

5. To improve educational process throughout the University

The question “Any comments or suggestions regarding organization of the educational process in general” is the last one in the questionnaire, but definitely not the least important one, as it is used by all administrative bodies of programmes, faculties and HSE University as a whole. Using SET data, administrators at all levels can understand the principles whereby the educational process should be built: how to design a schedule, how to carry out procedures for selecting minors and elective courses, how to enhance the University’s common services, which digital platforms to use, and so on. Furthermore, the total number of such useful reviews is ever growing: in 2022, students left more than 20,000 comments about the educational process in general.

The Degree Programmes Department carefully monitors the feedback of students in the SET on educational processes. We use comments in order to improve services that work for the entire university - e.g., procedures for selecting minors and MAGOLEGO.
For example, in 2022, students faced various technical and organizational problems when choosing electives, and we at the Degree and Microdegree Centre analyzed SET data to understand exactly what difficulties in finding and choosing courses for shaping their trajectory were most often encountered and, as such, we were able to solve them.

Natalia Chichik
Head of the Degree and Microdegree Centre of the Department of Degree Programmes