How much will assessment by students change teaching at Dhaka University?

The university is set to enter a new era where the students will also evaluate the teachers’ performance

Rasel SarkerDU Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 17 Jan 2024, 09:26 PM
Updated : 17 Jan 2024, 09:26 PM

In keeping with the developed world, Dhaka University has moved to introduce the evaluation of teachers’ performance by students in June.

Although this system is implemented in some private universities in Bangladesh, it is not practised in public universities. Experts are of the opinion that following the path of Dhaka University, other public universities will also be interested in starting it.

Educationist and Professor Emeritus of Dhaka University Syed Manzoorul Islam believes that awareness and a sense of responsibility will develop among the teachers and the students once the teaching evaluation system is introduced.

Speaking to bdnews24.com, he said: “This evaluation system is there all over the world. It has now become a part of teaching. To whom is a teacher accountable? This evaluation method is necessary because of accountability and their own development.

"If we don’t evaluate a teacher – whether they know the subject and teach it properly – after appointing them for a particular subject, they will not be able to improve.”

This assessment will improve teachers, the education system and the country, the educationist believes.

“It should be welcomed by all. I have already talked about this assessment. I applaud the initiative being taken now.”

HOW THE EVALUATION WILL BE DONE

Dhaka University has developed a set of guidelines on the evaluation of teachers. It was approved in a meeting of the Syndicate, the highest policy-making forum of the university on Oct 30, 2022 based on the recommendations of the Academic Council.

According to the guidelines, students will evaluate teachers based on a total of 22 questions on five indicators. After studying a course, students can log into their own dashboard on the university website and rate the teacher.

Students will be asked to give their opinion on a Likert scale on how does a teacher teach in the classroom, whether they start the class on time according to the class routine, whether they complete the course at the specified time, whether they give knowledge-based lectures, how are the content of the course, whether they are able to make the lessons interesting and lively, and whether they are able to create a comfortable academic environment in the classroom,

The students will also be asked whether the materials for learning are provided, whether the test-assignments are properly taken and evaluated, whether the learning process as a whole was effective. There will also be an opportunity to give written comments and suggestions based on three questions at the end.

The teacher's overall score will be determined by averaging the answers with 5 points as the highest score. A score above 4.5 will be considered as 'excellent', 4.0 to 4.5 points as 'Very Good', 3.5 to 4.0 points as 'Good', 3.0 to 3.5 points as 'Fair', 2.5 to 3.0 points as 'Poor', and below 2.5 points will be considered as 'very poor'.

The teachers will not be able to directly know the opinions of the students. Only heads of departments, faculties and institutes will know the views of the students and  discuss these issues with the teachers.

The Institutional Quality Assurance Cell of the university is training the advisors and class representatives (CRs) of all the departments and institutes before the introduction of the teacher evaluation system.

Cell Director Professor Sabita Rezwana Rahman said 710 teachers of 94 departments and institutes have been trained. At least two teachers from each department and institute have received training. They shared what they learnt with other teachers of their department and institute.

Training of CRs of many departments and institutes has been completed. The rest are being brought under training. CRs are also sharing these with their classmates.

CR Tanveer Al Hadi Mayed of the 13th batch of mass communication and journalism department has been trained to evaluate the teachers.

He said, “We have been trained on how to do teaching evaluation, what questions to answer. Besides these, we have taken written advice on what issues should be evaluated by the teachers."

Mayed said that a video tutorial has also been given on how to evaluate the teachers.

Prof Manzoorul said peers can also evaluate the teachers, but that process may be biassed because of the teachers’ involvement in politics.

“The evaluation by students should be objective. We need to make them understand that we have done the assessment properly. That is why students should be trained first. I think this is a way forward for us. Teacher evaluation will face obstacles, but it should still be introduced first,” he said.

“But let's not punish anyone unduly through this assessment.”

HOW THE PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES DO IT

Students evaluate teachers at private universities through the institutions’ own software.
Professor SK Tawfique M Haque, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at North South University, said that they have been running the teaching evaluation system for almost 20 years.

“We have an inbuilt software called the RDA system where students can do the evaluation before the final exams, but the faculties are allowed to see the scores after the exam results are out, so that there is no bias and no one is named,” he said.

The evaluation has two parts and the first is the performance of the teacher – whether they come to the class on time, complete the lessons on time, cover the entire syllabus, and have the ability to explain properly.

The second part is on whether the students are benefiting from the course.

Mahbubur Rahman, a student of the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, said that they have a software called URMS, through which they evaluate the teachers.

They must do the evaluation at the end of a course, or be barred from exams.

WHAT STUDENTS SAY

Students have applauded the decision to evaluate teachers at Dhaka University. According to them, when teaching evaluation is introduced, a teacher can understand where they need to improve.

Yasin Al Shaheen, a student of Bangla department, said, “There was no platform for this evaluation until now. We didn't have a chance to say openly about how a teacher is teaching, which aspects are good and which are bad. The university should be applauded if it is introduced.”

Fahad Habib, a student of the law department, said a teacher sometimes teaches the same course for many years with many deficiencies. “Students may not like a particular subject. There is no place for students to express their likes or dislikes. In the new system, students can give their feedback. Teachers will also get a chance to make corrections.”

Shaibal Roy, a physics student, believes the new system should not be a tool of witch hunt, but give the teachers a chance to improve their teaching process.

"After seven colleges are affiliated to Dhaka University, teachers have become more busy. They have to spend time there as well, which is giving them little time to prepare for the classes. Ultimately, their performance is becoming worse,” he said.

Sumaiya Islam Oishi, a student of the Department of Economics, said, "It is said that in the field of higher education, teachers become senior scholars and students become junior scholars. Teachers also have to learn from students. So the education system needs to be interactive.”

Commenting that this will be a landmark initiative in the history of Dhaka University,

Noor Mohammad, a student of Islamic history and culture, described the new system as a landmark in the university’s history.

"I hope that the responsibility and accountability of all teachers will increase if the teaching evaluation system is launched."

WHAT TEACHERS SAY

Teachers have also given their opinion in favour of the decision to introduce an evaluation system for them.

Dhaka University Teachers’ Association President Nizamul Hoque Bhuiyan says this programme will enrich the quality of education because through this, teachers will be more responsible.

“Those who are not serious about giving lessons will be alert and take more preparation for the classes. I hope every one of our teachers will take this positively and it will bring good results.

“I think it should be introduced not only in Dhaka University but in all universities for the development of education,” he said.

Professor Abdul Basir, dean of the Faculty of Arts, thinks that if teachers know their weaknesses and limitations through evaluation, they can improve their teaching methods accordingly.

“I also believe that we will start researching, studying, taking classes, and brainstorming. This competition is meant to elevate the university to international standards.”

If this method is introduced, there will be a positive result, said the Dean of the Faculty of Science. Abdus Chamad.

Prof Zia Rahman, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, had also taught abroad.

“Teacher evaluation is a very timely decision. We are too late. Actually we should have done it long ago. It is very important from the point of international standards,” he said.

However, introducing this method in Bangladesh may be challenging, said Prof Zia.

“Because a student can be resentful of or has a negative attitude towards a teacher, and evaluate them accordingly. “

“And we are divided in many ways here. Some are divided politically, some are divided from the place of ideology,” he said.

Vice-Chancellor Professor ASM Maksud Kamal said, "Our main aim is to create awareness among teachers and students, increase quality and interaction between teachers and students, increase responsibility and accountability of teachers.

"Above all, we are going to start this programme to ensure quality education and research in the university by protecting the dignity of teachers, protecting the rights of students."

He said complete confidentiality will be practised in this programme. Special seminars and workshops have been initiated to give the teachers and the students an idea about the system before its launch.

“We have trained the teachers – as much as they need to be informed. And the work to train the students is supposed to be completed in January. Each department has the task of training the CR and the teachers advising the students.

The training of the teachers along with student advisors has been completed. Now the CRs will be trained by student instructors.”