Exploring students' evaluation of the teaching and learning process at a selected nursing campus in KwaZulu-Natal : lecturers' and students' perspective.
Background: The World Bank realizes the significance of investment in higher education for economic growth and social development, and greater focus is placed on quality assurance to ensure educational relevance. Most Governments and Institutions of Higher Education have executed policies and practices intended to determine, promote and reward good teaching. Institutions of Higher Education around the world collect some type of feedback from students, either in a structured and controlled manner or informally, as part of their strategies to improve the quality of their teaching practices. In South Africa, the Higher Education Quality Committee requires Higher Education Institutions to provide proof of the mechanisms in place to monitor and evaluate teaching as part of their accreditation process, and considers students as important role players in quality promotion and quality assurance in higher education. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the views of lecturers and students regarding the students’ evaluation of teaching and learning process, with the aim of improving its’ utilisation as one of the quality assurance mechanisms at a selected KwaZulu-Natal nursing campus. Methodology: A quantitative descriptive approach was employed in this study. Convenience sampling was used to select one campus from seven of the KwaZulu-Natal College of Nursing for the study. All lecturers and students that met the criteria to participate were selected. A total of 173 lecturer and student participants from onecampus of the KwaZulu-Natal College of Nursing gave their views on the subject of the students’ evaluation of the teaching and learning process in their institution. The lecturer sample was comprised of 28 participants while the student sample had 145 participants, and the overall response rate for the study was 82%. Data was collected using two questionnaires, one for each participant group, and the data was analysed using the SSPS Package Version 19.0. The Pearson chi-square tests were conducted and where inappropriate, Fisher’s exact tests were used to test association between categorical variables. The level of significance was set at 0.05. Findings: The findings of the study revealed that students and the majority of lecturers were not involved in the development and evaluation of the block evaluation tool. Participants believed that there was neither a clear system, nor guidelines to ensure proper management of data obtained from the evaluation, resulting in students often not receiving feedback from their evaluation of the teaching and learning process. It also emanated from this study that any changes which did occur as a result of the block evaluation were minor. Most of the tests showed no statistically significant differences between the views of the lecturers and those of the students. Recommendations: Students’ evaluation of teaching and learning is not a clear cut process and therefore necessitates reflection on what to evaluate, how to elicit views from target groups, analyse information obtained and what action to take, so as to implement required changes. Recommendations included establishment of: an organisational structure with a neutral person delegated that is fully involved in the evaluation process; a structured process to conduct students’ evaluation of teaching and learning with written supporting policies that have clear guidelines for all stakeholders. The purpose of the evaluation should be made explicit to all. The administration, implementation procedures and reporting of results should be transparent and communicated to all concerned. A clear consultative and counselling process where lecturers are supported and assisted in improving their teaching skills and addressing outcomes of the evaluation needs to be in place. Student feedback should be taken seriously and action should be taken as mandated. Students’ concerns should be addressed promptly and they must be informed of action taken as a result of their input.