Highly rated university tutors (as depicted by student evaluations) and self-directed learning


Student evaluations can be seen as a method utilised by universities across Australia and worldwide to determine the teaching performance of their academic staff. Such evaluations utilise a number of criteria against which students then allocate a numerical mark in order to rate their tutor. Essentially, the higher the numerical rating, the better the teaching performance is deemed to be. The aim of this paper is to outline research findings that demonstrate a link between highly rated tutors (as determined by student evaluations) and the use of self-directed learning strategies.

A survey of tutors from across a range of disciplines, who tutor at first and second year undergraduate level, was carried out. The survey took the form of a self-assessment survey and was provided to tutors who achieved an above average rating on their teaching evaluations within one university. Tutors were asked to identify classroom practices and philosophies that were integral, or otherwise to their everyday teaching practice. These practices and philosophies as outlined in the survey were derived from a literature review undertaken in terms of practices and strategies that underpin the promotion of self-directed learning. The survey results were then collated in the form of quantitative data in order to demonstrate a relationship between highly rated tutors and the use of self-directed learning strategies. Participants, who achieved an above mean use of self-directed learning strategies, were then asked to participate in an interview. Due to a number of time restraints, only tutors who demonstrated an above mean use of such strategies, as revealed through the self-assessment survey, were contacted for interview. Information collected from the interviews was collated in the form of a list of the actual strategies being used by these tutors and is outlined in the following pages.


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