About the Unit of Study Evaluation System (USE)
The University's Unit of Study Evaluation (USE) system administered by the Institute for Teaching and Learning is designed to support aspects of the University's policy on The Management and Evaluation of Coursework Teaching which was approved by Academic Board on 16 May, 2001.
The USE survey has 12 items. There are 8 standard items and 4 faculty designated items. Associate Deans Learning and Teaching consult with staff in their respective faculties to determine the additional four items for inclusion on their faculty's forms. These items are set for at least twelve months and in some cases for the full term of the three year survey cycle.
In addition to feedback gathered using the student surveys, the USE system encourages Unit of Study Coordinators to consider information from self and peer review in evaluating units.
As well as providing data to support Unit of Study coordinators, the USE system provides Deans with faculty level data to support strategic planning and quality assuarance.
If you have any feedback or queries regarding the ITL's USE System please contact Jennifer Ungaro or Professor Keith Trigwell in the Institute for Teaching and Learning on 9351 3725. Or visit Staff survey contacts.
You might also like to contact your Associate Dean Learning and Teaching, particularly if your questions relate to your faculty's strategy for evaluating units of study.
Purpose of the USE
The purpose of the Unit of Study Evaluation (USE) system is to provide information for unit of study coordinators, Heads of Schools, Program Directors and Deans seeking to assess the effectiveness of units of study in order to plan and implement teaching and learning improvements. The focus of the system is on the unit of study and not the individual. The key outputs of the USE system are intended to be:
- Documentation of the quality of units of study and an indication of how units of study effectively contribute to the overall quality of students' learning experiences in a degree.
- Recommendations by unit of study co-ordinators in the form of documented strategies which will maintain, or further improve, the teaching and learning quality of individual units.
The effectiveness of the USE in quality enhancement is increased if the recommendations from Unit of Study coordinators are fed back to students. There are several models currently being used in the university to Close-the-loop.
In addition to students' reports of their teaching and learning experiences, the Unit of Study Evaluation system encourages unit of study coordinators to draw upon other data from students, academic colleagues and their own insights as teachers. In doing so it recognises that issues of teaching context must be considered in the evaluation of individual units of study. These include; class size, available resources, and the compulsory or elective nature of student enrolments, amongst others. The unit of study coordinator is ideally placed to integrate data on these factors. As such, information generated by the USE system (the statistical reports of the students' ratings and the surveys containing their explanations for these ratings) is returned initially to unit of study co-ordinators.
The USE data is intended to support staff in improving teaching. Such improvements are often most effective when they are focussed and strategically aligned with faculty initiatives. As such, some of the USE survey items correspond to the factor scales of the university's teaching quality assurance survey - the Student Course Experience Questionnaire (SCEQ), which is used to monitor teaching quality and inform strategic teaching initiatives at a faculty level. Because of this correspondence between the USE survey items and the SCEQ factor scales, it can provide staff of the department, school or faculty with an indication of the relative contributions of different units of study, to faculty performance on the SCEQ factor scales.
Similarly, the USE system does not focus on an individual's performance. Staff wishing to investigate and document their own teaching, for promotion and self development purposes, are encouraged to visit the section of the ITL website on Feedback for Teachers or contact the ITL to discuss the best methods to employ. The ITL's USE reporting process has been endorsed by the Chair of Academic Board.
Faculty profiles and USE numerical data are available to nominated Heads of School, Program Directors and Deans to support strategic planning.