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The importance of midterm evaluations for your tutorials: how does it work?

High teaching quality is the main priority of the International Studies bachelor. This is why we have a unique system of evaluating the tutorials as they are running, the so-called midterm evaluations, in addition to the regular course evaluations at the end of the semester. As the tutorial system is one of the corner stones of the programme, tutorials are thoroughly prepared before the start of the semester by lecturers, tutors, and support staff together to guarantee quality.

Once the semester has started, it is imperative to take a moment and assess whether the aims and objectives initially designed for tutorials are indeed being achieved. This ‘reality check’ takes place by way of the online mid-term evaluations, which are held at the end of the third session for 1st year and the second session for 2nd year courses.

Engaging in (self-)reflection
An important element in these evaluations is also to encourage all participants in the tutorials, tutors and students alike, to engage in critical (self-)reflection within a safe, open, and above all constructive climate. Therefore, in the session following the mid-term exam, students and tutors discuss the comments made in the survey regarding assignments, criteria, feedback, or other matters that may need further clarification.

We hope that the evaluations and the discussions of the outcomes provide a moment for students to also reflect on their own participation in the tutorials. ‘The more you put into it, the more you get out of it’ is especially true for tutorials. Active participation is crucial for their success. We are lucky that for most of our students this is the natural attitude!

To our satisfaction, most of the comments show the students’ high appreciation for the way tutors engage and perform in the teaching environment. Aspects as structure, what is expected in assignments, the development of academic skills, the feedback provided, or the way content is explained are generally also evaluated in a very positive way, and confirm the didactic line of thought behind the organization of tutorials.

Outcomes: what is done with the results?
However, since the evaluations are also a way to constantly improve the way we work, we do welcome comments that are more critical as well. Students mention, for example, a tutor’s quick pace of speaking, a more or less ‘heavy’ accent in English, or strict application of rules. In a large and internationally diverse programme as International Studies, with a diverse body of staff, it is no surprise that such diversity exists, and we are happy that these comments give us the possibility of addressing it. Normally, a conversation between the tutor in question and the head of the tutor team who monitors the evaluations outcome follows takes place, during which a solution for the situation is discussed and always found. In the past we have, amongst others, discussed with tutors how to communicate with a multicultural and international audience, or about the culture of the programme in a more general sense, for example when it comes to the application of regulations.

Share your thoughts in the upcoming mid-term reviews!
In short, based on the input provided by the different participants to the tutorials, we are able to assure high quality teaching and, therefore, we invite you warmly to share your thoughts and views on the tutorials with us in the upcoming midterm reviews in March.

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