STUDENT EVALUATION AS AN IMPETUS FOR QUALITY TEACHING AND LEARNING IN HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS: THE EXPERIENCE OF BISHOP STUART UNIVERSITY
In the context of sustained growth and diversification of Higher Education Systems, civil society is increasingly concerned about the quality of programmers offered to students. As a result, there is an increase in public assessments and international comparisons of Higher Education Institutions, not only within the higher education sector but in the general media (OECD, 2008). However, evaluation methods tend to overemphasize research and the use of research performance as a yardstick of an institution’s value. Although this is very paramount in academia, it has got insignificant contribution to the quality of graduates who precede from such breeding grounds. There is need to appreciate the fact that the quality of graduates is largely determined by the way they are taught thus calling for a rationalized intended approach to the evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in higher education institutions (Kaneko, 2008). The current study investigated the quality of teaching in Bishop Stuart University in Uganda with the aim of encouraging practices that could enhance the quality of teaching and thereby checking the quality of graduates. The study adopted a cross sectional comparative study design using both quantitative and qualitative research approaches. This study was conducted at Bishop Stuart University (BSU), Mbarara in the Faculty of Education where a comparison of the teaching and learning process of students in two programme sessions of study (recess or distance learning and regular sessions) was carried out. Randomized samples of 362 out of a population of 1501 and 78 out of a population of 201 students were obtained from both the regular and recess sessions respectively for the quantitative data. An evaluation was done of the teaching and learning process in the two programme sessions in the classes taught by the same lecturers using the same instrument which had 9 items related to lecturers’ punctuality, attendance, mastery of subject content, teaching methods, enthusiasm and commitment, lecturers’ being dependable and approachable, respect and meaningful feedback. The findings thereof were mutually exclusive; it was found that the lecturers from students of the regular programme had very good scores whereas from students of recess or distance learning programme, the same lecturers had low scores. This finding compelled the researchers to find out why this was so. They thus conducted a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) and three Key Informants’ Interviews (KIIs) which revealed that the programme session conditions and terms of work affected the teaching and learning processes. It was concluded that under a given outlay of conditions, the same lecturers performed differently. It was thus recommended that using both qualitative and quantitative data approaches, there should be continuous student evaluations in ensuring effective teaching and learning, particularly for students in higher institutions of learning.
Keywords: Higher education institutions, student evaluation, teaching and learning.