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Allegations, Abuse and Discrimination: Using Student Evaluation of Teaching Surveys to Support Student and Educator Wellbeing

Abstract

Student Evaluation of Teaching surveys (SETs) are used at universities to inform teaching practice and subject design. However, there is increasing concern about the impact of allegations, abuse, and discrimination in survey open text components. Here we discuss the implementation of an automated screening mechanism using a combination of dictionary and machine learning approaches. We present both a process diagram detailing how the screening is performed, as well as a form of categorisation for comments that are unacceptable or indicate a potential risk of harm. Examples of real comments in each of these categories are presented to demonstrate the depth of the challenge and potential cause for concern. Ultimately, we argue that student and educator wellbeing are inextricably connected and exposing staff to abusive and discriminatory comments causes harm. Furthermore, SETs are an important channel for students to raise concerns about their own wellbeing and potentially unsafe experiences in the learning environment.

Published: 2023-12-11
Pages:92 to 103
Section:Articles
How to Cite
Cunningham, S., Cathcart, A., & Graham, T. (2023). Allegations, Abuse and Discrimination: Using Student Evaluation of Teaching Surveys to Support Student and Educator Wellbeing. Student Success, 14(3), 92-103. https://doi.org/10.5204/ssj.2756

Author Biographies

Queensland University of Technology
Australia Australia

Sam is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering at Queensland University of Technology. His teaching area of focus is foundational skills, and large engineering classes. Sam's research involves machine learning and textual analysis techniques for application in educational contexts. Part of this involves being able to summarise and visualise student written text, which formed a large portion of his PhD. He was previously part of the evaluation team at QUT and is a Senior Fellow and Associate Fellow (Indigenous) of the UK Higher Education Academy. 

Queensland University of Technology
Australia Australia

Professor Cathcart is the Director of Student Success and Teaching Advancement at Queensland University of Technology in Australia where her portfolio includes leadership of Educator Development, Student Evaluations, Language, Learning and STEM Support, Careers and Employability, HEA fellowship, Awards, and Student Retention. She is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and the recipient of multiple awards including QUT Teacher of the Year, three national Australian Awards for University Teaching (Citation, Teaching Excellence Award, and Program Award) and a QS Wharton Nurturing Employability Silver Award. She co-developed the world first specialist Associate Fellow (Indigenous) of the HEA.

Queensland University of Technology
Australia Australia

Tina Graham is the Service Manager, Student Success and Teaching Advancement at Queensland University of Technology. She is an Associate Fellow of the HEA and the recipient of an AAUT Citation for her work supporting the integration of Indigenous perspectives in learning and teaching.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795