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Student Evaluation of Course and Teaching Procedure

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Section 1 - Purpose and Scope

(1) This Procedure outlines the processes and requirements for preparing and delivering Student Evaluation of Course and Teaching (SECaT) surveys and Student Evaluation of Tutors (SETutor) surveys, which are centrally administered by the Student Surveys and Evaluations Team (SSET) in the Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation (ITaLI).

(2) This Procedure applies to all students and staff at UQ and is limited to SECaT and SETutor surveys.

(3) This Procedure does not apply to surveys that might arise for systematic and regular reviews of shorter-form credentials and pathway programs and courses, or from research projects that employ survey methods.

(4) Corporate and administrative surveys may be administered on a regular and ad hoc basis to canvass student opinions on other topics (for example, public transport usage). Student surveys other than SECaT and SETutor fall within the scope of the Student Survey Guideline.

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Section 2 - Process and Key Controls

(5) This Procedure describes the administration of the SECaT and SETutor surveys used to collect feedback from students on their educational experiences. It describes which courses and staff members are eligible to be surveyed, the schedule for those surveys, the processes of data collection, and the data access control levels that are in place for staff.

(6) To the extent applicable, the administration of SECaT and SETutor surveys will comply with relevant policies, procedures, and guidelines including, but not necessarily limited to, the following:

  1. Privacy Management Policy
  2. Responsible Research Management Framework Policy
  3. Intellectual Property Policy
  4. Information Management Policy
  5. Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom Policy
  6. Student Integrity and Misconduct Policy
  7. Student Code of Conduct Policy.
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Section 3 - Evaluation Procedure

Course and Teaching Evaluation Instruments

(7) UQ undertakes internal quality assurance surveys to evaluate key aspects of the course and learning experiences of students, including:

  1. SECaT survey - this survey gives students the opportunity to provide feedback on their educational experiences in relation to the course and teaching practices within a course in which they are enrolled.
  2. SETutor survey - this survey gives students the opportunity to provide feedback on their educational experiences and a Tutor’s teaching practices within a course in which they are enrolled.

(8) The SECaT and SETutor surveys use standardised questionnaires, which are formally reviewed and revised by the University’s Teaching, Learning and Student Experience Committee. Questions that appear on the SECaT and SETutor surveys are available on ITaLI's Student Evaluation of Course and Teacher (SECaT) website. No personalised or customised questions may be added to SECaT and SETutor surveys.

(9) These questionnaires are included in the Schedule of this Procedure (in Section 9).

Student Evaluation of Course and Teacher (SECaT)

(10) SECaT distribution should be managed such that it maximises student engagement. Only those making a reasonable contribution to the teaching of a course should be registered to evaluate with the course via SECaTs. To ascertain a reasonable contribution, a threshold teaching load is defined in Section 8. This definition will allow identification of teaching staff from University data in order to issue the SECaTs for appropriate staff members. SECaT surveys are administered by the SSET in ITaLI.

(11) SECaT surveys are administered for every course with 5 or more (≥5) enrolments each time it is taught and for every teacher with a Threshold Teaching Load (defined in Section 8) on a course entered in the University’s curriculum management system.

(12) A SECaT survey may be administered for staff who teach only in the first half of a year-long course at the end of their teaching semester. If staff, who are teaching across the full year, would like feedback mid-year then they should engage interim feedback techniques suggested in the Assuring and Enhancing Course and Teaching Quality Guideline.

(13) To enable SECaT surveys to be generated automatically, schools should ensure that the Course Coordinator and teaching staff for each course are recorded correctly in the curriculum management system by the census date of each semester.

(14) Schools may choose to self-administer surveys for guest lecturers and staff who do not undertake a Threshold Teaching Load on a course. These surveys may contain customised question sets about a course or teaching.

Exemption from SECaT

(15) Any course with one-to-one supervision (including a thesis or clinical placement), is exempt from the SECaT requirements and processes set out in this Procedure. Schools are required to provide a list of exempt courses to SSET every semester.

(16) There may, however, be instances when it is appropriate for an exemption from the SECaT requirements set out in this Procedure to apply to courses outside of thesis-based courses or clinical placement. An exemption may be applicable to the course, the teaching, or both. If the Course Coordinator and the School Director of Teaching and Learning consider that an exemption is appropriate, a confirmation email is required to be sent to SSET from the School Director of Teaching and Learning with a copy to the Faculty's Associate Dean (Academic). A copy of the email is to be kept on record by SSET and recorded in standard reporting processes to faculties and schools.

(17) The full list of SECaT-exempt courses will be recorded by SSET and made available to the University’s Teaching, Learning and Student Experience Committee upon request.

Student Evaluation of Tutors (SETutor)

(18) Engagement in the SETutor process is not compulsory. For the purpose of this Procedure, Tutor is defined in Section 8 below.

(19) A SETutor survey should not be administered for a staff member if they are evaluated by a SECaT survey for the same course during the same evaluation period. This is to mitigate survey fatigue for student cohorts. For year long courses, a SETutor survey may be administered for individual Tutors in Semester 1 and 2.

(20) A SETutor survey is administered at the course level with 5 or more (≥ 5) enrolments, as one (1) SETutor evaluation per Tutor, per course, including where the Tutor delivers multiple tutorials/laboratories across different modes of instruction for one course.

(21) Additionally, SETutor is only administered for Tutors upon request to SSET by the relevant School. SSET can create SETutor surveys when a school opts in to centrally administrated SETutor surveys and assigns Tutors to such a role in the curriculum management system.

Standard Evaluation Schedule

(22) SECaT and SETutor surveys:

  1. are administered online;
  2. are administered within the following standard schedule:
    1. are typically open for 3 weeks at the end of Semester, including Summer Semester. For a 13 week semester the surveys are opened on Monday of week 12,
    2. close immediately before the Revision/Examination Period shown in the Academic Calendar;
  3. may be administered outside the standard schedule on request (see below ‘SECaT/SETutor Surveys Outside the Standard Schedules’ provisions).

(23) The standard schedules are published and updated on the ITaLI website each semester according to the UQ academic calendar.

(24) Notwithstanding the ‘Student Evaluation of Course and Teacher (SECaT)’ provisions, unless approved by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), no other internal or external surveys should be administered concurrently with SECaT or SETutor evaluations. This includes surveys that target UQ’s student population or a randomised sample of the whole cohort. Please refer to the Student Survey Guideline.

SECaT/SETutor Surveys Outside the Standard Schedules

(25) SECaT/SETutor surveys can be administered outside the standard schedule when courses are taught in intensive mode or offered outside of the standard semester timetables.

(26) To facilitate these evaluations, schools must provide SSET with a list of courses two weeks before courses commence teaching with non-standard teaching start and end dates.

(27) It is recommended that SECaT and SETutor surveys administered outside of the standard schedule remain open for a period of not more than 3 weeks.

(28) No SECaT or SETutor surveys that are administered outside the standard schedule will open, re-open or close on a public holiday or be kept open during the University’s official business close periods to ensure that technical support is available to staff and students.

(29) When SECaT or SETutor surveys are administered outside the standard schedule, the schools are responsible for communicating the relevant SECaT and SETutor survey dates to the relevant students and staff to avoid any confusion and miscommunication.

(30) Reports for evaluations outside standard schedules will only be distributed after students’ grades are released – refer to the ‘Recording and Reporting’ provisions under Section 4.

Language Scan

Language Scan Process

(31) Student feedback should be honest, constructive, and respectful to improve the quality of teaching and learning. UQ acknowledges that (at times), valuable feedback may include critical language conveyed in a negative tone.

(32) However, student feedback that is reasonably considered to be abusive, malicious, discriminatory or are breaches of the Student Code of Conduct PolicyStudent Integrity and Misconduct Policy and/or Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom Policy will not be accepted. The University can take measures to scan for any feedback suggesting a threat of harm to self or others, or the use of any abusive, malicious or discriminatory language. This process is referred to in this Procedure as the “Language Scan”.

(33) SSET is responsible for the Language Scan process. It maintains a language scan dictionary (“the dictionary”) that detects and identifies language, behaviours or actions that are harmful to the safety and wellbeing of staff and students. Any words or phrases that are identified in the automated scanning process are then manually reviewed by SSET.

(34) The Language Scan process is undertaken for all SECaT and SETutor evaluations. SSET forwards comments flagged (at SSET's discretion) to the Director, ITaLI for review. The Director, ITaLI (or a person nominated by the Director) can approve words, phrases and/or sentences to be redacted from the evaluation reports.

(35) Where an entire comment has been approved to be redacted by the Director, ITaLI in the Language Scan process, all associated ratings given by the students to all quantitative questions will be deleted from the evaluation reports before processing the scores and releasing the report to staff and in UQ’s Reportal. The Language scan is undertaken prior to releasing evaluation reports to staff.

(36) UQ Staff may request the inclusion of additional words in the Dictionary by notifying the Associate Dean (Academic) who will then request the University's Teaching, Learning and Student Experience Committee to consider and endorse the proposed inclusion.

Staff Request to Redact or Remove Student Comments

(37) Upon receiving a SECaT or SETutor report, a staff member may request to have comments containing abusive, malicious or, discriminatory, language redacted from the relevant report and UQ’s Reportal, which were not identified during the Language Scan process. To do so, the staff member can submit a request with support from the Head of School (or nominee) to the Associate Dean (Academic) who can, if satisfied, submit the endorsed request to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) (or nominee) for approval.

(38) Where approval to remove text is granted, the comments and scores will be redacted and associated quantitative scores will be deleted.

Staff Request to Access Unedited Qualitative Data (Comments)

(39) A staff member through their Head of School may make a request to SSET to access the unedited version of students’ comments. The staff member should provide reasons as to why the unedited version should be released to them. At their discretion, the Head of School can decide whether it is appropriate to release the unedited version of students’ comments to the staff member. If the Head of School considers it to be appropriate, SSET will release a copy of unedited students’ comments in PDF format to the Head of School to provide to the staff member. The identity of the student remains confidential and will not be disclosed to the Head of School or staff member.

Closing the Feedback Loop

(40) Course Coordinators are encouraged to provide a summary of evaluation outcomes, as well as how they have responded to comments received, to students in the next cohort. This information may be recorded on the Blackboard site and discussed in the first class of the semester.

(41) All students can request Course Coordinators to provide summaries of evaluation results from the previous offering of each course.

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Section 4 - Recording and Reporting

Evaluation Reporting

(42) Evaluation reports are distributed to staff after the official release date of final grades each semester specified in the UQ academic calendar.

(43) To protect student confidentiality, evaluation reports will only be distributed when a single survey meets the reportable data threshold (5 or more (≥5) responses). Where there are fewer than 5 responses, no numerical analysis and/or comments will be disclosed in evaluation reports.

(44) When a SECaT or SETutor survey meets the reportable data threshold, the following evaluation reports will be available:

  1. SECaT Course Reports – these reports contain the results from the quantitative questions only, and do not contain any comments from students. These reports are publicly accessible through the UQ’s Reportal.
  2. Individual SECaT Teaching reports – these reports are available in UQ’s Reportal as well as through the Individual Activity Profile (IAP).
  3. School-level summary reports – these reports are based on SECaT and SETutor surveys and are available in the UQ’s Reportal.

(45) SSET provides a semester-based executive summary to the University’s Teaching, Learning and Student Experience Committee for internal quality assurance purposes and other reports upon request. Semester-based summary reports generally include:

  1. SECaT response rates and survey effectiveness aggregated at university levels, including the number of courses that do not meet the reportable data threshold;
  2. SECaT question-level analyses aggregated at university levels;
  3. Additional analyses that may be undertaken as required dependent on strategic priorities as well as responding to other committees and senior executives.

Staff Access to Evaluation Reports in Reportal

Staff Access to Evaluation Reports by Role

(46) Individual Evaluation reports from SECaTs and SETutors are distributed to the appropriate staff member. The identity of students remains confidential within SSET. Student identities are not disclosed to individual staff.

(47) Evaluation Reports are also available through UQ’s Reportal. Staff members may access reports through the Reportal according to their roles and the following business rules:

  1. Individual teachers – All their own individual teaching results at the question item level for SECaT teaching questions.
  2. Course Coordinators - All quantitative, qualitative, past, and present results related to the specific course, including the teaching results of all members of teaching staff involved in the course delivery. New Course Coordinators can request access to all quantitative, qualitative, past, and present results related to the specific course they are new to coordinating, including the teaching results of all members of teaching staff involved in the past delivery of the course.
  3. Heads of School - All quantitative, qualitative, past, and present results of all individual course and teaching evaluations, School SECaT Summary (course and teaching) and School SETutor Summary reports for the School.
  4. Executive Deans and Associate Deans (Academic) - All quantitative, qualitative, past, and present results of all individual course and teaching evaluations, School SECaT Summary (course and teaching) and School SETutor Summary Reports for the schools in the Faculty.
  5. Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), President of the Academic Board - All quantitative, qualitative, past, and present results of all course and teaching evaluations, School SECaT Summary (course and teaching) and School SETutor Summary Reports.
  6. All staff and students – Quantitative results of course evaluations only (without comments) through UQ’s Reportal and other UQ dashboards as appropriate.

Staff Delegations to Access Evaluation Reports

(48) Heads of School, Associate Deans (Academic), Executive Deans, and University Executives may delegate their authority of access in UQ’s Reportal to other UQ staff members who have responsibility for teaching and learning or reviews of performance. Any delegation of authority must be provided to SSET in writing and renewed each year.

(49) SSET conducts an annual audit of SECaT/SETutor report access at the beginning of an academic year. Changes of academic leadership roles and/or staff with delegated authority access taking place before the next annual report access audit must be provided to SSET in writing and updated with Planning and Business Intelligence (PBI).

Raw data exports

(50) UQ staff may request SSET to export raw data of course and teaching evaluation in the de-identified format. The level and scope of raw data export are aligned with the UQ staff’s role and report access rules listed in the ‘Staff Access to Evaluation Reports by Role’ provisions of this Procedure.

(51) Raw data is not available when a single survey does not meet the reportable data threshold, receiving less than 5 (<5) responses.

Evaluation Data Recording

(52) The use, analysis and storage of SECaT and SETutor survey data must follow the University Information Management Policy. SSET can provide guidance on the appropriate use, analysis, and storage of the survey data.

(53) SSET manages collecting, exporting, and updating SECaT and SETutor results, and reviews the reporting structure and data access in UQ’s Reportal.

(54) PBI manages recording, reporting and storing SECaT and SETutor results in Reportal as required (see ‘Evaluation Reporting’ and ‘Staff Access to Evaluation Reports in Reportal’ provisions of this Procedure).

(55) Both business units will keep adequate records as outlined in the Keeping Records at UQ Procedure.

(56) Evaluation data recorded in UQ’s Reportal is primarily used for the annual programs, plans and courses quality assurance process, as well as for comprehensive cyclical reviews of undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs, septennial school reviews, and for the monitoring of the quality of teaching and student outcomes within courses, as outlined in the Programs, Plans and Courses Quality Assurance Policy.

(57) Evaluation data used for any purposes other than those outlined in this Procedure or the relevant policies and guidelines must be approved by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) and in compliance with other relevant policies and procedures.

Data Confidentiality

(58) The University will ensure that all data is collected and managed in accordance with University policies and relevant privacy laws, including the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld). Students are requested not to self-identify and student identities remain confidential and are not released to teaching staff. However, if the student does self-identify the teaching staff are not to contact individual students about their responses to SECaT and/or SETutor surveys.

(59) The University is not to provide information that will identify a student who responds to the SECaT or SETutor survey unless required elsewhere in this Procedure or by law.

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Section 5 - University’s Evaluation and Wellbeing of Staff and Students

(60) Where comments collected through the SECaT and/or SETutor surveys do not meet the standards of behaviour expected of students (UQ standards), as defined in the Student Code of Conduct Policy, and conduct that is prohibited (misconduct) as outlined in the behaviours or actions that are relevant to the Student Code of Conduct Policy, the Director, ITaLI, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), or their nominee, may refer the matter to be dealt with in accordance with the Student Integrity and Misconduct Policy.

(61) When identifying any intention, behaviours, or actions that suggest a threat of harm to self or others, SSET forwards comments identified to the Manager of Student Incidents and Support (or nominee) to work with the Associate Dean of the relevant faculty (or nominee) to determine what, if any, action needs to be taken following the relevant University procedure and protocols.

(62) Comments that appear to contain threats to any student or staff, or that are perceived to be abusive, malicious or, discriminatory to the extent they may constitute misconduct or serious misconduct, will be handled according to relevant UQ policies relating to student and staff misconduct, and the UQ Enterprise Agreement.

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Section 6 - Roles, Responsibilities, and Accountabilities

(63) SSET is responsible for assessing UQ’s compliance with the student evaluation survey requirements in the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (Cth) (TEQSA Act) via a range of mechanisms including:

  1. advising the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) on this Procedure’s validity, currency and requirements;
  2. providing training opportunities and awareness-raising materials to enable UQ staff to meet obligations under this Procedure;
  3. consider relevant policies as outlined in Section 2 of this Procedure, when undertaking the language scan process.
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Section 7 - Monitoring, Review, and Assurance

(64) This Procedure is monitored by the University’s Teaching, Learning and Student Experience Committee and will be reviewed every 5 years. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) oversees the compliance with this Procedure across the University and will manage the review of this Procedure and/or its associated Schedules as required.

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Section 8 - Definitions

Term Definition
“Threshold Teaching Load” Means a teaching load carried by an individual teacher with responsibility in a course for 4 or more sessions that: 
• each cover new material (i.e. not a repeat)
• include lectures, tutorials or active learning sessions or a combination of these
• may or may not include associated assessment
Tutor Means an individual that: 
• has an academic appointment in Workday and an Aurion number; and
• leads classes, tutorials, workshops, labs, practical sessions, problem-based learning, case based learning, clinical sessions, drop-in sessions, study sessions, or groups online. (A Tutor must lead a consistent group of students for at least four sessions.)

A Tutor does not include support staff who provide incidental support or technical assistance to students in teaching spaces/labs.

It is anticipated that the above requirements will exclude certain teaching support staff including demonstrators and peer led learning Tutors.
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Section 9 - Schedules

SECaT Course questions, effective Semester 2, 2020 onwards:

(65) Questions:

  1. I had a clear understanding of the aims and goals of the course.
  2. The course was intellectually stimulating.
  3. The course was well structured.
  4. Course experiences, tools or materials were useful for my learning.
  5. Assessment requirements were made clear to me.
  6. I received helpful personal or group feedback on how I was going in the course (in person or online).
  7. I learned a lot in this course.
  8. Overall, how would you rate this course?
  9. What were the best aspects of this course?
  10. What improvements would you suggest?

SECaT Teacher questions, effective Semester 2, 2020 onwards:

(66) Questions:

  1. …was well organised.
  2. …was good at explaining things.
  3. …was approachable and treated students with respect (in person or online).
  4. …stimulated my interest in the field of study.
  5. …inspired me to learn (in person or online).
  6. …encouraged student input (in person or online).
  7. …was available and responsive (in person or online).
  8. Overall, how would you rate this teacher?
  9. What aspects of this teacher’s approach best helped your learning?
  10. What would you have liked this teacher to have done differently?

SETutor questions:

(67) Questions:

  1. …was well prepared.
  2. …communicated clearly (in person or online).
  3. …was approachable and treated students with respect (in person or online).
  4. …inspired me to learn.
  5. …encouraged student input (in person or online).
  6. …gave helpful personal or group advice or feedback (in person or online).
  7. Overall, how would you rate this tutor?
  8. What aspects of this tutor’s approach to teaching best helped your learning?
  9. What would you have liked this tutor to have done differently?