Some departments run a brief paper-based survey of student views about class teachers in Week 4 or 5 of the Michaelmas Term. This is a quick local check, aimed at identifying any classes where there appear to be problems. These surveys are handled by the department. If they have any concerns, they will normally contact the appropriate class teacher soon after the survey to discuss the situation and see what support, advice or encouragement might prove useful. You may or may not get feedback on these surveys, but do feel free to ask if you don't hear anything.
At School level, the Teaching Quality Assurance and Review Office (TQARO) conducts surveys of students' opinions of teaching. Students are surveyed about the teaching they receive from both GTAs and permanent staff. These surveys provide teachers with important information about the perceived quality of their teaching. They also provide the School with a general measure of teaching standards. These surveys take place in the Michaelmas Term (or Lent Term if a GTA is teaching only in Lent Term). Students are asked about their views on class teaching, as well as lecturing and other aspects of course delivery.
All surveys are conducted on paper, as this produces better response rates. They usually take place in Weeks 8 and 9 of the Michaelmas Term. Each teacher is given a survey pack for each class they take: the pack contains a set of blank questionnaires, a cover sheet and an instruction sheet. Questionnaires are distributed in class and teachers are asked to leave the room while the students complete them. The survey comprises a quantitative section, in which students rate their satisfaction with various aspects of the teaching, and a qualitative section that asks for written comments about the quality of their learning experience on the course in question.
The results of the quantitative section of the survey are seen by:
you, the individual class teacher, so that you can reflect on your own teaching and develop your skills;
the Head of Department/Institute and the departmental teacher responsible for the course, who can quickly see if any class teachers are having difficulty with their classes;
the Director of the Teaching and Learning Centre, who uses the data to monitor general concerns in teaching in order to respond to training needs and to identify GTAs who could be nominated by their department for annual teaching prizes; and
the Pro-Director (Teaching and Learning), who has an overview of teaching across the School.
Teaching question results are also made available to Teaching Committee Chairs and staff mentors; and course question results are also made available to course convenors, programme directors and to relevant Heads of Department where the course is compulsory for a programme but taught outside the teacher's department. Course scores are also considered by the Academic and Student Affairs Committee.
The only person who sees the students' qualitative comments is you, the class teacher. These comments are often the most useful part of the survey for developing and improving teaching practice and can alert you to any specific problems in your classes.
In addition to producing individual reports for teachers, TQARO produces aggregated quantitative data for departments and the School. These are available on the TQARO website.
Research indicates that feedback from students is most useful when teachers take that feedback and discuss it with someone else, and decide on appropriate actions for development. You may wish to discuss your results with the teacher responsible for the course, the departmental 'mentor' for class teachers (if there is such a person), or the member of the Teaching and Learning Centre's Educational Development team who is the key contact for your department (see the Educational developers at LSE page at lse.ac.uk/tlc/teaching).
GTAs who score badly will be supported by the teacher responsible for the course and by the Teaching and Learning Centre (average scores higher than 2.49 will be used to denote a bad score, in a scale of 1-5 where 1 is the top mark). Mentors (chosen on the basis of their own high scores) may also be appointed to these GTAs from the department's permanent staff. Following a period of support and development, these GTAs will be surveyed again in the Lent Term (if they are teaching on a course that runs in that term). If the scores show no improvement, the GTA may have his/her contract revoked unless there are special extenuating circumstances, to be approved by the Head of Department and the Pro-Director for Teaching and Learning.
This is intended as a supportive process. The School is interested in helping teachers to develop and improve, rather than trying to allocate blame. But it has a responsibility to students to take action where teaching problems persist.
You will be kept informed about the running of the surveys by staff from TQARO. Do check with other class teachers in around Week 7 of the Michaelmas Term if you have not received information, as it may mean that for some reason you have not been included in the distribution. If the is alerted whilst the survey is still running, they may be able to add you and your students into the survey.
The survey results will be sent to you, usually a couple of weeks after the survey has closed. Please contact the TQARO if you do not get your results within a few weeks. In some cases (where there are fewer than five respondents) you will not get any results. However, there are some occasions when the data goes astray, so it is worth asking.
The survey is also used to identify good practice. Each year, every department is invited to nominate one or more GTAs for small departmental teaching prizes. Should you be nominated, you will receive the prize through your pay packet, plus a certificate signed by the Director of LSE. You may also be invited to contribute to the initial training sessions for new class teachers - and to contribute to ideas included in this handbook!
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