UHI Millennium Institute, HoTLS - Preparing for Subject Review - Writing SEDs
Writingself-evaluation documentsJune 2008
Aim• Readers of the report should be left with aclear impression of the views the self-evaluation group has of itself: its strengthsand how these will be maintained orenhanced; and a frank appraisal of itsweaknesses, how it is intended toeradicate them, or if this is not possible,what improvements it intends to make
Questions• What do you do?• Why do you do it?• How well do you do it?• How do you know how well you do it?
Think about your audience• Who is going to read your document?• What knowledge do they have– of the subject area?– of the Scottish system?• What power do they have?
Who should be involved?Course team, students, others in UHI, externals…Issues to consider• Ownership• Responsibilities• Timing• Consistency• Preparing for the review / event
Managing perceptions• The self-evaluation document can set thetone for the review; it also sets the initialarea for review• What impression do you want to make?• (But it’s only part of the process!)
Strengths and weaknesses• Identify weaknesses honestly (but not in adestructive way!)• Don’t forget to identify strengths too• Tone is important – think about languageand structure• Remember that reviewers will use yourdocument as their starting point
Evidence and description• Self-evaluation should be both evaluativeand descriptive. A self-evaluation willneed to contain sufficient description toprovide the intended audience withcontext and understanding. ‘Persuasive’self-evaluations may need to contain moredescription as external readers will lackthe insider knowledge of the self-evaluation group.
Making judgements• Self-evaluation involves judgement: that somethingis good, might be improved, should be changed etc.Judgements can only be made on the basis ofevidence (i.e., information related to criteria). It is acommon failing to leave the judgement implicit, toprovide a description of activity that is intended self-evidently to point to a particular judgement. Suchan approach assumes shared criteria and valueswith external readers that may not be there. Self-evaluations should contain judgements and reasonsfor them.
Thinking like a reviewer• ‘there is an identified need for staffdevelopment which is more subject based’• ‘teaching and learning is also beingreassessed’• ‘student support is inadequate’
Thinking like a reviewer• ‘there is a plan to use thin client technologyin a few years’• ‘learning resources are considered in theannual course reports’.
Evidence• From the beginning, think about howyou’re going to organise your evidence• Use referencing and document lists• Direct reviewers to the most appropriatesource of evidence
Be kind to your reader!• Your document should be well structuredand easy to read• Think about– Spacing– Paragraph length and structure– Order and numbering• Try to keep your reader’s interest
Consider• language• abbreviations• length• clarity• sense• purpose• punctuation• tools• style• lists• diagrams• redrafting• checkingpresentation and content are both important
Benefits of an evaluative document• may influence the amount of time the teamspends in the institution• reviewers arrive at the institution with a clearview understanding of the provision• reviewers are aware of the environment in whichthe subject is operating• may reduce the amount of additionaldocumentation requested by the team• enables the establishment of a clear agenda forthe review