Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-17, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 11 January, 2017 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2017.


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Student evaluation

core definition

Student evaluation has two meanings:

1. student evaluation is an assessment by learners of the service provided by the institution, be it solely of the classroom experience or of all aspects of the learning experience.

2. in some countries, such as the United States and Canada, 'student evaluation' has the same meaning as assessment of students' learning

explanatory context

Student evaluation sometimes involves an evaluation of all aspects of the learning experience provided by the institution, including teaching, library, information technology, through to the sport facilities and catering. This is sometimes called the total student experience.

In other cases, the student evaluation might be restricted to feedback on the performance of teaching staff, usually undertaken at the unit (course or module) level. Often this teacher performace evaluation is limited and often fails to engage with students' own evaluation of their learning. Sometimes, albeit rarely, evaluation procedures focus on an assessment of learning.


Student evaluation is sometimes referred to as student feedback. However, the term 'feedback' needs to be used with care and a clear distinction drawn between feedback from students about their experience and feedback to students about their progress. Feedback from students is the same as the first core meaning above. Feedback to students is the same as assessment of students' learning and thus similar to the second core meaning above.


Student evaluation in the sense of assment of students (and thus of feeback to students on progress) is summed up by the University of Missouri School of Medicine (2012):

Student evaluation is a vital part of any educational process. In medical education, evaluation serves two purposes: 1) to assess student performance and 2) to provide the information needed to continuously enhance each student's performance. The assessment component determines whether each student is acquiring the appropriate knowledge and skills to function as a competent physician and is developing the values, attitudes and behaviors that characterize the high standards of the medical profession.


The rest of this entry only addresses the first of the core meanings, that of student assessment of their experience. Student evaluation in the sense of assessment of student's knowledge and progress is addressed elsewhere under assessment of students' learning.

analytical review

Macquarie Univerirty (2012) writes:

Student Evaluation and Feedback: Student feedback is a rich and valuable source of information for both formative and summative purposes.... It is recognised that student views about their experience at Macquarie, their programs of study and the component units and the teaching within those units are an essential part of the quality enhancement cycle.... As such, student evaluation and feedback are also of fundamental and intrinsic importance to the University. Students' views about their experience provide evidence for the University in assuring stakeholders that the University's aims for learning and teaching are being achieved and that it is engaged in continual enhancement.

Student feedback also has the potential to provide you with valuable information about your teaching. Students are experts in telling us about their experience in learning and many teachers find students' perspectives enlightening and helpful when evaluating their teaching, especially when combined with other sources of information gained through peer- and self-evaluation.

Student evaluation can also inform curriculum development. When teaching teams come together and share their evaluation results, common trends can be often be observed and coordinated changes can be made across a unit or a program of study. It is at this level that evaluation is most powerful.

The Edinburgh College of Art, Univerirty of Edinburgh (undated) notes:

The quality of teaching on all University programmes is regularly monitored both externally and internally. Student feedback is an important part of this process. Even more importantly, student feedback and evaluation is a very highly valued input to curriculum and programme review.

associated issues

Vlăsceanu et al. (2004) refer to student surveys as part of student evelauation:

Student Survey: An assessment method that uses surveys and interviews to ascertain the satisfaction of enrolled students with programmes, services, and different other aspects of their academic experience. Students are usually asked to respond to a series of open-ended, close-ended, or telephone questions. The survey may include in-class questionnaires, mail questionnaires, telephone questionnaires, and/or interviews (standard, in-person, or focus group). Student surveys are relatively inexpensive, easy to administer, and can reach participants over a wide area. They are best suited for concise and non-sensitive topics, being able to give a sense, from the student perspective, of what is happening at a given moment in time, in the respective higher education institutions. Some observers may question their validity or reliability, as well as their relevance to academic policy.

related areas

See also

assessment of learning

assessment of teaching

service standards

total student experience


Macquarie University, 2012, Student Evaluation and Feedback, available at, updated 18 May 012, accessed 18 September 2012, still available 11 January 2017.

Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh (undated), Design and Digital Media Handbook: Teaching Quality and Assurance, available at, accessed 18 September 2012, page not available 11 January 2017.

University of Missouri School of Medicine, 2012, Requirements for Evaluation, available at , updated 26 July 2012, accessed 18 September 2012, page not available 11 January 2017.

Vlãsceanu, L., Grünberg, L., and Pârlea, D., 2004, Quality Assurance and Accreditation: A Glossary of Basic Terms and Definitions (Bucharest, UNESCO-CEPES) Papers on Higher Education, ISBN 92-9069-178-6, available at, accessed 20 September 2012, still available 29 December 2016.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2017

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