- Why take part in the SET?
- Should students be able to evaluate their teachers?
- How does HSE University use SET results?
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.
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”.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.