Prof. Kanonier on the subject of course assessment

The student course assessments are important, if not indispensable. Maintaining and continually improving the quality of all courses is one of the Dean of Studies’ main priorities. In order to make that possible, it is essential to obtain information and evaluations about courses that have a broad spectrum of pedagogical, didactic and presentational forms as well as differences in content. The evaluation of courses provides important feedback for both teaching staff and the Dean of Studies, enabling them to address deficiencies and further develop strengths.

The assessment results also affect the appointment of teachers. In future decisions about the appointment of teachers, the results of the assessments are always taken into account. Outstanding courses, teaching methods and didactic-pedagogical achievements should be promoted, just as highly criticised teaching should be improved. Limited budget resources in particular mean there is less and less space for courses that do not meet the high standards we expect.

However, in order to draw meaningful conclusions about individual courses, we need as many students as possible to take part in the assessment. The respective results are only representative of the overall quality of a course if an appropriate proportion of students participate in the assessment. Students should take advantage of the opportunity to assess the courses they have attended and to give the teachers feedback on their (service) performance. The deans of studies rely on the assessment results.

While evaluations (and any improvement measures) will primarily benefit future cohorts, current students urgently need to make use of their right to provide comprehensive evaluation of courses. Students, above all, have the insight and opportunities to compare different teaching methods, and they should communicate this information. Ideally it should not just be the performance of the students that is evaluated (through grades) but also that of the teachers (through course assessments). We hope, therefore, that extensive participation in the evaluations will produce meaningful results which can be used as a criterion for the appointment of teachers.