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University launches new electronic platform for course assessments

Queen’s University has launched a new tool that will enable students to provide constructive feedback to course instructors on their experience of teaching, using any smart device or computer. The Queen’s University Survey of Students’ Experience of Teaching (QSSET) replaces the old, paper-based University Survey of Student Assessment of Teaching (USAT).

“The move to an electronic survey is particularly timely in the current teaching environment, in which courses are mostly delivered remotely,” says John Pierce, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “We heard clearly from our students that they wanted an improved and more accessible format to report what their experience of learning was like, and we are pleased that QSSET is now in place to meet that request.”

The new survey, which was piloted successfully in a number of courses in past academic years, solicits student responses in four areas: Student, Instructor, Course (content and materials), and Course Infrastructure (learning environment). The questions in each section can be answered on a scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”, but there is also the new opportunity for students to offer open-ended comments in each section and on the survey overall.

The results of each survey are anonymized to protect student privacy. The survey results are used by instructors and academic department heads to help guide improvements and to assess the performance of instructors. Only the responses to questions in the “Instructor” area may be used directly in assessing the instructor’s teaching effectiveness except where the instructor has requested that responses to questions in the “Course” section also be considered.

It is anticipated that a sub-committee of the Joint Committee to Administer the (Queen’s-Queen’s University Faculty Association) Agreement (JCAA) will conduct an ongoing review of the design of the survey and the questions. The sub-committee will also recommend additional questions tailored to reflect the different pedagogies of Faculties and Schools.

QSSET is scheduled to launch in November, during the last four weeks of classes in the fall term. Students will receive an email with a link to the survey, and have one week to complete it. They will receive a separate survey for each course in which they are registered. More information is available on the new QSSET webpage.