Peter Burden


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Testing and Evaluation Goodwill or wind chill? Why is gaining insight into school ethos important? more

Institutional evaluation, a requirement to improve the quality and effectiveness of teaching, is carried out through the introduction of end-of-semester student evaluation of teaching. Is this sufficient? The “ethos” of an educational institution is the bedrock of all that takes place within a school but which often get bypassed in formal evaluations of quality and standards. While difficult to define, a school’s ethos can be described in terms of first impressions, the “feel” of the environment, and is composed of values and beliefs, attitudes, relationships. Many studies of the use of end of semester evaluation show that students respond by how they feel on the day of evaluation which is subject to extraneous variables. What are student evaluations influenced by? What is the everyday reality inside an institution? What values do students suggest within an institution? This presentation examines in more depth the importance of measuring a school’s ethos, shows the results from 250 questionnaire respondents, and offers some suggestions for improving the tertiary learning environment.

Peter Burden