Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Personalising teaching excellence: Constructing a 360º feedback survey (#39)

Susan Bolt 1 , Daniel Southam 1 , Jill Downie 1 , Tania Broadley 1 , Lyn Marks 1 , Cameron Thorn 1
  1. Curtin University, East Perth, WA, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

The shift in the universities to appoint academic staff on the basis of their teaching has led to uncertainty about the characteristics of ‘quality teaching’.  The lack of clear measurable criteria of teaching excellence gave rise to an Office for Learning and Teaching project, which developed the Australian University Teaching Criteria and Standards (AUTCS) framework.  The AUTCS identified seven criteria for university teaching and described standards of teaching demonstrated at five promotional levels. The AUTCS was not designed to be universally applied but rather to stimulate discussion and provoke action. 

Curtin used the AUTCS framework to develop its own criteria for teaching excellence that were embedded in professional learning and the academic promotion process. Curtin’s Teaching Excellence Criteria formed the basis for peer review of teaching (PRT), and participants were asked to reflect on and find evidence of their teaching in relation to the seven criteria. We found participants struggled to interpret and individualise the meaning of the criteria in their particular teaching contexts. 

To assist teachers to navigate their uncertainty about the complexity of teaching excellence, we embedded a 360º survey, based on the criteria, in a PRT initiative to provide participants with feedback from self-reflection, peers, colleagues, students and leaders. No such survey existed, so we used a Delphi process to create 4-6 items for each of the criteria in the survey in 2014; the Delphi process and the survey items are discussed in this presentation.

The 360º feedback survey was trialled in Semester 1 2015 and data collected to examine participants’ experiences with the survey and its effectiveness as a tool for providing university teachers with feedback about their teaching in relation to specific criteria. This presentation would be helpful for those interested in understanding the AUTCS within a specific context, enhancing and assuring teaching quality.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

Personalising teaching excellence: Constructing a 360º feedback survey showcases excellence in professional learning, practice and policy. This presentation demonstrates how the Australian University Criteria and Standards (AUTCS) Framework has been personalised and operationalised at Curtin University through the construction of a 360º feedback survey embedded in a peer review of teaching program. It fits within the overarching conference theme of learning for life and work in a complex world by addressing the professional learning needs and experiences of university teachers within a dynamic environment.

The introduction of teaching focused roles and the appointment of teachers based largely or solely on their teaching has created uncertainty amongst staff. Concurrently, while reshaping academic roles, many universities have also undertaken extensive teaching reform and renewal projects to increase their competitive edge in a demand-driven system. This has increased the complexity of teaching in the higher education sector. The 360º feedback survey provides participants with data from self-reflection, peers, colleagues, students and leaders in relation to the AUTCS, which they can use to monitor and improve their teaching to engage effectively with diverse communities.