Tools and Work Aids For students

Goals & benefits of course evaluations

The main goal of our teaching evaluation is to maintain a high level of teaching quality at the University of Bern and to continuously advance it. Therefore our guiding question in these evaluations is:

«What is good teaching?»

We developed answers to this question in collaboration with lecturers, the Educational Development Unit and students. We derived conditional factors and target criteria for Good Teaching and summarized in an impact model how these factors and target criteria are interrelated.

 Conditional factors:  Target criteria:
  • Course/Performance assessment
  • Instructors
  • Students
  • Satisfaction
  • Learning progress
  • Learning success

Course evaluations serve as our tool for measuring the extent to which these conditions have been met and the target criteria for Good Teaching have been achieved. This measurement serves several purposes:

In the first instance, the overall results of the evaluations serve as a basis for determining the current status of teaching quality at the individual faculties and at the University of Bern as a whole.

Another benefit that directly affects you as students is that course evaluations provide concrete feedback for instructors on how they can improve the teaching/learning conditions in their courses. The results of the evaluations help your instructurs to improve their teaching and to better align courses and exams.

You as students can benefit from this as well. Instructors can use your feedback to make last-minute adjustments to their course. This is especially true for the interim evaluation, since it takes place in the first half of the semester. If you take another course with the same instructor later on, you can also benefit from teaching and exams that have been improved based on your feedback provided in the final evaluation and in the evaluation of the performance assessment.

To be on the safe side, however, we take additional steps to ensure that particularly good as well as «insufficient» results do not go unnoticed. The quality management of the individual faculties is particularly important here. At the end of each semester, they receive an overview of the results of all evaluations at their faculty. This overview indicates which one of the four performance ratings each evaluated course has achieved:

  • excellent
  • good
  • sufficient
  • insufficient

Based on the conceptual framework and their own QM guidelines, the faculty's quality management initiates appropriate measures depending on these ratings:

  • Courses that achieve an «excellent» result in the final evaluation qualify for the ALL Project (Recognition of excellent teaching performance) and can be formally recognized by the faculty.
  • For courses with an «insufficient» outcome, one or more of the following measures will be taken, depending on the situation:
    • Obligatory interim and final evaluation of the next course
    • Self-report
    • Discussion 
    • Referral to the Educational Development Unit

As students, you play a significant role in your courses' success, in your own learning success, and consequently in the successful completion of your performance assessments. Therefore, it is important that, as part of the course evaluations, you assess and reflect on your own behavior as well. This includes your behavior in the course, your preparation for and review of each class, as well as your exam preparation.

  • Are you satisfied with your own contribution to the course?
  • Did you study autonomously?

If you find there’s room for improvement here, you too can contribute quite a bit to the quality of teaching in the future.