Dr Rubina Ahmed, a Sessional Academic, in School of Business reflects on using QUASAR to inform her teaching practice in this Q&A piece.
Why do you think the reflection process in QUASAR is important?
To me, QUASAR reflection process is a critical tool for faculty members to refine their teaching practices, ensure fair assessment, and pursue ongoing professional development. By embracing this process, faculty members can contribute to the creation of a high-quality learning experience that supports academic excellence. It allows to undertake a methodical and thorough evaluation of the subject deliveries. This reflection process offers several benefits, including:
- Identifying strengths and weaknesses: Through the QUASAR reflection process, I can pinpoint the areas of proficiency and those that need improvement. I think, this self-assessment is essential for personal and professional growth, enabling educators to adapt their teaching methods and materials accordingly.
- Enhancing teaching quality and student experience: By recognising and addressing areas that require improvement, I can elevate the quality of the teaching and subsequently create a more engaging and effective learning experience for students. The reflection process, therefore, directly contributes to better educational outcomes.
- Ensuring consistency and fairness in assessments: The QUASAR reflection process encourages faculty members to compare and contrast grades and performance across various subject offerings. This comparative analysis allows us to identify inconsistencies and rectify them, ensuring a fair and equitable assessment process.
- Fostering continuous professional development: The reflection process in QUASAR cultivates a culture of continuous learning and self-improvement among faculty members. By regularly evaluating their teaching practices and seeking opportunities to enhance them, faculty members remain current in their fields and are better equipped to adapt to evolving educational landscapes.
- Supporting academic excellence: Ultimately, the QUASAR reflection process helps establish and maintain high standards of teaching and learning within the university. By emphasising the importance of self-assessment and continuous improvement, this process fosters an environment where academic excellence can thrive.
How has it improved your teaching process?
QUASAR reflection process has been instrumental in fostering my personal and professional growth as an educator. It has helped me to refine my teaching strategies, incorporate valuable student feedback, and experiment with diverse assessment methods, ultimately contributing to a more engaging and effective learning experience for my students. The process has made me more conscious of my teaching practices and helped me identify areas where I can refine my delivery techniques. By reflecting on the strategies and methods used during a session, I can extract ideas for fine-tuning future deliveries. For example, reflecting on group work has prompted me to provide additional support to classes with this component. Also, to ensure a seamless and enjoyable learning experience for my students, I proactively gather informal feedback on what they find engaging and beneficial. For instance, I inquire about their preferences and challenges in assignments, and how they can be improved. Incorporating this feedback into my reflection allows me to generate ideas for enhancing future deliveries when applicable. Finally, QUASAR reflection process has encouraged me to explore and implement various authentic assessment types and modes. This approach keeps the subject assessments engaging for both students and me, while simultaneously ensuring that assessments remain fair, comprehensive, and effective.
What is the process you undertake in preparing for the reflection process?
When preparing for the reflection process, I take the following steps:
- Narrative reflection: I create a visual or written narrative of the entire delivery process, from beginning to end, highlighting any changes or additions to assessments. I also consider students’ perspectives on these changes, including their preferences, challenges, and suggestions for future improvements.
- Data analysis from QUASAR dashboard: I utilise the QUASAR dashboard to gather relevant data that provides insights into student performance. This information helps me identify trends and areas for potential improvement (More on this in next answer).
- Comparing grade distributions: I compare grade distribution trends across different session offerings. This comparison allows me to detect patterns, evaluate the effectiveness of my teaching strategies, and make necessary adjustments.
- Developing an action plan: After identifying areas of strength and opportunities for improvement, I create an action plan to address these areas in future subject offerings. This proactive approach ensures continuous enhancement of my teaching techniques and contributes to a better learning experience for my students.
What indicators from the dashboard or other sources inform your reflection?
Several indicators inform my reflection process:
- Overall PPR and SuES participation rate: By examining the overall PPR, I received for a delivery and the SuES participation rate, I can assess the representativeness of the reflection.
- Specific PPR: I also analyse specific PPR items, such as “Feedback I received throughout this subject helped me to learn effectively” and provide an interpretation for it. A high % of PPR in feedback effectiveness implies that providing in-depth feedback to the students helped them to improve their consecutive assessment performances.
- Grade history comparison: Comparing grade distributions with the most recent delivery allows me to identify any significant variances and potential reasons behind them, such as changes in assessment patterns or marking rubric criteria that may have affected subject performance.
- SuES PPR comparison across sessions: By comparing SuES PPR across consecutive sessions of the same subject I convene, I can detect any changes and determine their relevance to my teaching efforts. For example, my experience in managing group work and providing increased support led to a better student learning experience, which was reflected in higher PPR scores.
These dashboard data points enable me to identify trends and areas of concern, ultimately allowing me to make informed decisions about potential improvements and adjustments to my teaching practices. By continuously reflecting on these indicators, I can ensure that I provide the best possible learning experience for my students.
What advice would you give other academics approaching the QUASAR reflection process?
Faculty members engaging in the QUASAR reflection process can greatly benefit from several strategies that ensure growth and improvement in their teaching practices. First and foremost, it is crucial to approach the reflection process with a positive mindset. Viewing the process as an opportunity for growth and continuous improvement, rather than a critique of competence or an added burden, sets the foundation for meaningful progress. Second, conducting a self-assessment is key. Being thorough and candid when evaluating one’s strengths and areas where improvement is needed can effectively guide professional development. This honesty helps create a clear understanding of areas that require attention and growth. Third, seeking feedback from colleagues and students is an invaluable step. Their input can offer crucial insights into teaching practices and subject design, providing different perspectives that may not be apparent through self-assessment alone. Fourth, it is essential to utilise both data and qualitative feedback to gain a comprehensive understanding of teaching effectiveness. While considering available data and indicators is important, considering qualitative feedback and personal observations can provide a well-rounded view of one’s performance. Lastly, creating and implementing a specific action plan to address identified areas for improvement is a vital step in the reflection process. By developing such a plan and tracking progress over time, faculty members can ensure continuous growth and ongoing improvement in their teaching practices.