Course Evaluations

U Toronto Makes Course Eval System Available to other Institutions

An innovative course evaluation system that the University of Toronto has used for some time will now be marketed to other colleges and universities.

eXplorance, a company that provides learning experience management products, will market evalUT, which was created by the university's Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation.

The course evaluation framework uses a cascaded approach to measure learning metrics. By incorporating multiple levels of evaluation into a single form, the model enables any institution to include questions from divisions, departments and individual instructors.

Meeting differing priorities, the approach enables a centralized evaluation and data control process with the ability to preserve autonomy. The result is an effective framework that directly addresses educational priorities and enhances assessments and reports. The hope is that the framework can eliminate the problems that come with a one-size-fits-all course assessment program and the subjective qualities of a system created by and for individual instructors.

The program can include a set of universal questions that reflect the overall teaching and learning priorities of the institution. It could also have questions that are developed by the dean or divisional committee that address faculty priorities.

Next would be questions that are created by the department head or teaching and learning committee to gather department-specific data. Finally, certain questions can be selected by the individual instructor from a validated item bank to obtain data on teaching effectiveness.

"To make constructive decisions, educational institutions cannot simply rely on a bank of reliable and valid standardized questions," said Professor Susan McCahan, vice provost for innovations in undergraduate education at the University of Toronto. "It is critical to ensure that the process of collecting feedback is in line with the institution's educational goals so that decisions are made according to what is truly important."

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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