course evaluation

Innovative course evaluation system expands nationwide

A course evaluation framework developed at the University of Toronto will be licensed globally

A course evaluation framework developed and tested for a number of years at the University of Toronto (U of T) will be made available to educators across the globe.

Montreal-based eXplorance, a provider of software solutions that support learning, will be licensing evalUT, the university’s course evaluation framework. eXplorance said it intends to make the framework commercially available to the global education market.

The product of years of data-driven research at U of T’s Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation, evalUT includes a set of validated questions that enable students to provide feedback to their instructors.

But its developers say it goes beyond that, taking into consideration teaching and learning priorities across divisions and departments, focusing on continuous, evidence-based improvement and regularly taking into account new and emerging priorities.

When students were surveyed about their perceptions of their experiences with the new course evaluation framework and system at U of T, their comments included that it provides a seamless, easy way to give their instructors important feedback.

Next page: What students think of the course evaluation tool

The evaluations students provide on courses are strictly confidential and anonymous. But students have clearly indicated the U of T system is a valuable tool and they understand why course evaluations are important.

“I appreciate the opportunity to provide comments to my instructors that will help them develop their courses and improve their teaching,” said history student Anne Diskin. “Having a voice in the further development of my program is incredibly valuable and the course evaluation system is an excellent forum for this feedback.”

“They’re a quick and easy way for me to share my thoughts with my profs and my faculty through a secure and non-intimidating medium,” added fourth year philosophy student Emma Smith.

“When we’re collecting feedback, it has to be in line with the institution’s educational goals so decisions are made according to what is truly important,” said Professor Susan McCahan, Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education, University of Toronto. “In order to make constructive decisions, educational institutions cannot simply rely on a bank of standardized questions. The evidence-based approach at the heart of the evalUT framework and the way it’s being implemented has resulted in conversations and practices that go much deeper than simply administering a standardized tool.”

Other Canadian institutions are already benefitting from the framework developed at U of T. “evalUT has been very helpful in our efforts to improve our approach to incorporating student feedback into the professional development of SFU instructors,” says Dr. Jon Driver, Vice President, Academic and Provost, Simon Fraser University. “The framework has the flexibility needed to encourage engagement at all levels in the organization. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with our colleagues at the University of Toronto in this important area.”

eXplorance will be responsible for raising awareness regarding the evalUT framework and for educating organizations on how to integrate it. Meanwhile, the University of Toronto will collaborate with the entire community of evalUT users to continually improve the framework.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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Laura Ascione

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