The University of Alberta Students’ Union strongly believes that student input into the quality of teaching is essential in evaluating and improving teaching at the University of Alberta. This student input is largely provided through the Universal Student Ratings of Instruction (USRI). Students need to be involved in any future evaluation of the USRI, and student input must continue to be an important part of a multifaceted teaching evaluation.
The USRI is a formative evaluation mechanism which students complete on a class by class basis. Most students complete these evaluations online through the eUSRI portal that is electronically sent out to all students. The feedback from these evaluations is then used by faculties, departments and instructors to improve and enhance teaching on campus. USRIs have also been used by Faculty Evaluation Committees which make decisions on an instructor's tenure and promotion.
The University outlines in policy1 how USRIs are only one part of a multifaceted teaching evaluation which includes both summative and formative types of feedback. In the same vein, the University emphasizes that all decisions concerning tenure, promotion or unsatisfactory teaching performance must be based on more than one indicator of the adequacy of teaching, one of which is USRIs. The use of USRIs and other forms of evaluation of teaching are all tools of measurement in the University’s commitment to teaching.
As an institution of learning it is so important that those on the receiving end of that - students - are able to provide feedback on learning. The Students’ Union unequivocally believes that student input in teaching evaluation is imperative in ensuring teaching is excellent across campus. There is no other stakeholder on campus more capable of providing feedback on teaching than students, and students’ role in this process should not be understated nor discredited.
The Student’s Union believes that there is merit in evaluating the design and delivery of USRIs in their current form and there is room for improvement, however, this review should not diminish the significance of student feedback. Undergraduate feedback is necessary and essential to inform University policies of their impact on students on campus, especially when it comes to teaching evaluations2.