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What Student Teaching Quality Assessment Can Show

What students think about strict teachers and why seminars are more popular than lectures

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This academic year’s first Student Teaching Quality Assessment (i.e., teacher evaluation) round has started. Together with the Centre for Institutional Research, we have summarized some trends detected in last year’s assessment.

Students Do Not ‘Dump’ Strict Teachers

Students’ ratings of their instructors and courses in most criteria do not strongly correlate to the average grade received by students in this subject. The more complicated the students thought the course was, the lower their average rating of it was.  But in terms of lecturers, students’ attitude was different: there was no consistent correlation, and, generally, the subjects that scored the highest in other criteria usually turned out to be the most difficult.

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On June 16, HSE’s final Teaching Quality Assessment (TQA) for this year comes to its conclusion. This is an important mechanism, which helps us receive student feedback about courses and instruction at our university. Below, HSE University Life considers five key questions of the TQA.

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For Some Students, It’s Hard to Offer Something New

Since this summer, the list of best courses taught at HSE University (those that received at least 4.5 points in one of the categories) has been available.

Second-year undergraduate students gave the highest scores to courses in the ‘Novelty of Knowledge Given’ category more often than the other categories (almost 40% of subjects). It’s hard to surprise master’s students with something new, but they more often give high scores to subjects in terms of their ‘Usefulness for Expanding the Outlook and Diversified Development’. According to first-year master’s students, almost half of their courses met this criterion.

Lectures Need to Be Interesting

In the HSE Student Teaching Quality Assessment, students are asked how often they attend lectures and seminars. In almost two thirds of disciplines, students attend over 80% of seminars, while attendance of lectures is lower at 57%.

Lecture attendance evidently correlates with students’ assessment of the contents of the course. The more interesting, clear, and useful the course and the lectures are, the more often students attend them.

The situation is different with seminars: there is almost no correlation. This may be due to the fact that seminar attendance is usually taken into account in the final course grade, and students attend them even if they don’t really like them.

Winter and Summer Exam Periods Are the Most Stressful

It is well known that exam periods after the second and fourth module are often the most stressful. This can be confirmed by the number of course subjects available in the assessment listing for students to evaluate before the exams. Last year, in the second and fourth module, they assessed 2826 and 2780 subjects, while in autumn and spring, only 663 and 1594. 

It’s hard to imagine that at the end of academic year, students assess almost 4,000 teachers. This is comparable to an entire ‘population’ of a big HSE faculty.

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Everyone Votes!

Almost all university students participate in the vote. In Moscow, voting participation reached  94-95%, with 93-94% in St. Petersburg, 96-97% in Nizhny Novgorod, and an impressive 97-98% in Perm. Of course, it is largely due to the fact that participation in Student Teaching Quality Assessment is not only an opportunity, but a responsibility for HSE University students. On the other hand, only 2% of students in each module responded, ‘Don’t know/No answer,’ in all fields, which is a sign of general interest in this feedback tool.

Write to Your Teacher

Every student can leave an extended comment. Last year, students wrote 66,735 comments.

Most often, students leave feedback about their instructors, which accounts for over 60% of text comments in Teaching Quality Assessment. Only one tenth of all comments are about the academic process itself, but they are the most detailed ones and consist of 41 words on average, while comments about specific subjects or teachers have an average of 29 or 32 words, respectively.

You can participate in the Student Teaching Quality Assessment in the LMS system, in the ‘Assess Your Courses’ (Оцени свои курсы) section. Don’t forget to do it before the examination period starts!

Teachers can see their results and students’ comments in completed Teaching Quality Assessment campaigns in their personal profiles, following the Teaching Staff Ranking (Рейтинг ППС) link. Detailed instructions on accessing the data are available here (in Russian).

The Centre for Institutional Research has launched a project on Project Fair for students who are interested in making the university’s reaction to student feedback more precise and useful.