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Friday, June 24 • 09:00 - 09:50
CON10.06 - Making Sense of Teaching Evaluations: The Value of Noise

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People with very different values, assumptions and intentions – students, instructors, faculty developers, administrators, technicians – are all part of the Student Ratings of Instruction (SRI) process. The ambiguities and gaps created by real and imagined differences among the groups can produce a kind of ‘noise’ that affects how we understand SRIs and our faith in them. This session explores what we actually do when we ‘read’ SRIs, and how we can arrive at more meaningful, actionable insights from that reading. Thinking about reading as a socially embedded practice (Barton & Hamilton, 2000; Gee, 1989) helps us to clarify where different people ‘stand’ as SRI readers, and to see the ambiguities as opportunities for new lines of inquiry and engaging with others rather than as reasons for disengagement.

Participants will reflect individually and in groups on their experiences and beliefs about the usefulness and limitations of SRI in the context of evidence from the research literature (e.g., Hativa, 2013; Wright et al., 2014). Participants will use a proposed visual, conceptual model that describes factors in the 'system' of SRI meaning production to structure, clarify, and integrate insights from the experiences discussed in the first part of the workshop. Participants will also assess the completeness, consistency, and utility of the proposed conceptual model.

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Identify factors that produce ambiguities when interpreting SRI scores;

  • Describe how ‘explanatory narratives’ for those ambiguities may rely on unexamined myths and misconceptions;

  • Identify the multiple groups, or 'discourse communities', involved in SRI meaning production; and

  • Apply concrete strategies for using inquiry to make SRI reports more meaningful and useful for improving teaching practice.

avatar for Beverley Hamilton

Beverley Hamilton

University of Windsor
Bev Hamilton is the Academic Initiatives Officer in the Provost’s office at the University of Windsor. She undertakes research, projects, and policy development to enhance academic practice and the student experience. She is currently engaged with projects focused on teaching evaluation... Read More →

Friday June 24, 2016 09:00 - 09:50 EDT
UCC 59