Evaluation at FAU
FAU takes a decentralised approach to evaluation, as it does to all quality management measures. The key criterion here is that data collection and evaluation are linked to the appropriate levels. Evaluation, responsibilities and available data are stipulated in a centralised evaluation concept.
Decentralised evaluation system
The faculties are responsible for the evaluation of teaching units, modules and degree programmes. This ensures that the content and methods are adjusted to reflect the decentralised quality management structures. This is the best way to guarantee that evaluations are fully integrated into the decentralised quality development and quality assurance systems and used effectively. Each faculty has developed its own evaluation concept.
Centralised evaluation system
Some aspects of the evaluation of teaching and studying are carried out centrally. These include the organisation and coordination of university-wide surveys. FAU participates in the Bavarian Graduate Panel (BAP) and in the Bavarian Graduate Studies from the Bavarian State Institute for Higher Education Research and Planning (IHF), as well as the graduate/former student surveys coordinated by the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW). Furthermore, administrative data is processed and evaluated centrally and then made available to the faculties and degree programmes. In collaboration with the Office of Strategic Information and Performance Statistics (S-PFS), valuable information on the development and heterogeneity of students, drop-out rates, and the number of graduates is provided. In addition to ensuring that those involved in decentralised evaluation receive advice and support, another key task of the centralised evaluation system is to design, conduct and evaluate the FAU student survey.
FAU student survey (FAU St)
The student survey, previously referred to as ‘FAU Panel’, is a key element in teaching and studying. This annual survey has been conducted at FAU at a central level since 2011. It provides a detailed overview of students’ opinions and what they think about studying conditions at FAU. If enough responses are received, they can be analysed for individual degree programmes. The survey has been conducted a total of eight times now (from 2011 to 2018). Following a comprehensive revision, the student survey was renamed and has been called ‘FAU St’ since 2016.
The survey was fundamentally revised in the summer of 2015 due to low participation and a high number of participants not completing the survey. It was renamed ‘FAU St’ and more detailed questions regarding specific groups of students and study situations were developed within newly defined survey focus areas. The questions target specific groups which are asked to answer questions designed to reflect their individual study situation. The individual groups are new students, students who will graduate soon, current students, students transferring from other universities, students changing degree programme, and students during transition from Bachelor’s to Master’s degree programmes. Depending on the focus of the survey, other groups may be added.
Key fields requiring action were derived from the results of the survey FAU St 2016. However, when analysing and processing these areas it became clear that there was not sufficient detail given about the background to and causes of certain situations described by students to develop an approach for tackling the issues in question. For this reason, FAU-St 2017 focused on the fields requiring action. This led to a general survey alternating with a specific survey, a cycle which will continue in future. This means that in the first year students will be asked to respond to a comprehensive survey on various aspects of studying at FAU in general, and in the following year, a specific survey will be developed which is orientated toward specific needs and issues identified in the previous year’s survey.
The survey collects information which gives an impression of the studying conditions at FAU in general. ‘FAU St’ supplements the evaluations of individual degree programmes, teaching units, and study progress based on administrative data. The FAU student survey offers students the opportunity to express their opinions on a number of different topics. They are asked about their level of satisfaction, study situation, initial experiences at FAU, and motivation. They also have the opportunity to evaluate the infrastructure and service centres at FAU, to give their opinion on their prospects for the future, how they found studying when they had just started university and their plans for starting out on a career etc., as well as on additional issues relating to the fields which have been found to be requiring action. Students can also give their opinions on problems and difficulties encountered at FAU. As each of the groups of students receive different questions on these topics, there is not only an improvement in the information available for assessing the range of degree programmes offered and the general conditions for studying at FAU, but the information refers specifically to individual groups. This allows improvements to be made to teaching and studying at several different levels.
The survey findings are an opportunity for decision-makers at FAU to use the empirical evidence as a basis to make contact with students and discuss specific situations in individual degree programmes and to initiate processes of change.
The results of previous surveys were published in FAU’s online publication system OPUS FAU as part of the FAU Panel publication series. There are currently reports available for the surveys conducted from 2012 to 2015. In June 2016, the results were published in full in the collection of student surveys in OPUS FAU. Information on the key results of FAU St 2018 can be found in the summary. The next FAU student survey is expected to be held in May to June 2019.
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