nemesis's Journal

Process Improvement 1

Sunday 22nd October, 2006

In order to effectively improve processes, you need to measure how your current processes are performing. This way, you have a "benchmark" against which to measure how well your process improvement is going. At the ANU, there is a department called CEDAM which provides these services.

Now, it's all well and good to give lecturers access to CEDAM's services, but it's a completely different story if you mandate the use of this service. In a project management context, it's no good to tell project managers they can optionally measure how well their project is being managed. Obviously, the good project managers will choose to measure their performance (if they're not already!), and the not-so-good project managers will just say "but why do I need to?" This is no different with course lecturers.

CEDAM surveys should be mandatory for all students to complete (i.e. you can't get a grade unless you complete it), and the results of the surveys should be made public. This way, students can select courses to do based upon the past performance of lecturers or course organisation; thus, reducing the demand for poor quality lecturers or poorly thought out courses. Perhaps it will even lead to some healthy competition between Universities. Can you imagine how great courses would be if UC were competing with ANU for better CEDAM scores?

6 Responses

Joelith
22nd October 2006

That is an excellent idea, CEDAM scores of individual lecturers should be made available. If nothing but to shame the most boring of lecturers to actual work on presenting a good lecture. I would go one step further and link them directly to pay. Get a good CEDAM score and you will get a bonus. Considering that student's are being expected to pay more and more for their degree it would be good for the lecturers to have to work for that money.

I note that you can get a summary of the CEDAM scores here. Unfortunately the data is quite limiting. At cursory glance i note that the Engineering & Computer Science College is the lowest rated for lectures. Not surprising really.

nemesis
22nd October 2006

Wow, further reinforcing my theory that poor lecturers won't bother measuring their performance; note the number of responses recieved by CEDAM for Engineering: 74. Considering the number of later-year Engineering and IT students there are, that's an abysmal response rate.

QueenBee
23rd October 2006

Even if the results weren't made publically available (it would seem to me that would break a few privacy rules/laws but I could be wrong) the department should seriously be looking at them. It doesnt' reflect well on the department to be continually ranking on e of the worst in the university.

I agree that lectuers performance and ranking should be linked to pay, its how it works out in the "real world" - if you perform badly you don't get your bonus (or you don't get that promotion). There needs to be some incentive to do better - otherwise why would they bother?

QueenBee
23rd October 2006

sorry that should be "continually ranked" (its late and i'm tired ;-) )

Joelith
24th October 2006

I don't think there is any issue of privacy. Students CEDAM reports won't be released and we don't have our names on them. As for lecturers if they get a bad score we all will know it anyway!

Also check out http://www.ratemyprofessor.com . The ANU is actually listed. The only lecturer on their I knew was Weifa who not surprisingly received a score of 1 out of 5

nemesis
24th October 2006

The problem with linking lecturer performance to pay is that neither the ANU (or any university for that matter) nor lecturers would go for that sort of model. Most universities place far more emphasis on research than on quality of teaching -- it's how universities gain their "presteige". Think about all the times you hear about some breakthrough RSPhys makes in the news.

If the university were to penalize researchers because they made for poor lecturers and teachers, they would quickly find that all their good researchers went to other institutions.

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