Background Student evaluation of faculty members’ ability to provide quality learning experiences is required for both formative and summative purposes. The aim was to explore the perceptions of medical students and faculty towards and teaching evaluations.
Methods A 21-item questionnaire, adapted from the Schmelkin et al. (1997) inventory, evaluated learner and faculty perceptions of purpose, etiquette, confidentiality, outcome and attitude towards evaluation. A 5-point Likert-scale was used (1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree). Mean ± SD of the scale were compared using the Mann-Whitney test.
Results Fifty-two (54%) of faculty members and 80 (23%) of students completed the questionnaire. While both faculty and students strongly agreeing that there was sufficient security in terms of confidentiality in the online evaluation (faculty = 3.67±1.0 vs. students=3.59±1.2), students, however, believed instructors could recognize individual student comments (3.23±1.0 vs. 2.35±1.1), (p<0.0001). Students strongly agreed (3.56±0.7) that culture allowed objective evaluation of teachers, while faculty were less convinced (2.83±1.1), (p<0.0001). Faculty believed more strongly that they made changes to their teaching in response to student evaluation (3.91±1.0 vs. 3.40±0.9, p<0.0001).
Conclusions While there was general agreement on the value of teacher evaluation, there were differences between faculty and students in terms of the confidentiality, what teachers did with their evaluation and whether evaluation led to improved practice. Educating teachers and learners of the purpose of evaluation as a transparent process for quality improvement is an imperative.