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Students Assessing Teaching and Learning (SATAL)


What is SATAL?

Scholars from a variety of disciplines across the globe have been creating fruitful partnerships with undergraduate students and engaging them as co-creators of their educational development in an effort to enhance teaching and improve student learning in higher education. The "Students as Partners" (SaPs) movement in higher education places students, faculty, and staff as valued collaborators in the teaching and learning process (Mercer-Mapstone et al., 2017). To that end, SaPs provide students with an opportunity to improve pedagogical practices and create meaningful professional development learning experiences that will complement their degree completion and transfer to their future careers (Cook-Sather, Bovill, and Felten 2014; Matthews, 2017, Signorini and Pohan 2019).

In 2009, Adriana Signorini from the Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning at UC Merced developed the Students Assessing Teaching And Learning (SATAL) Program as a pedagogical approach to support faculty and staff working to enhance teaching and improve student learning on campus. Faculty, teaching assistants, and/or academic program leads partner with SATAL interns to assess the teaching and learning experiences of students in their classes and/or programs. As a SaP program, SATAL places value on the voice and views of students, as they engage as partners in the learning experience. This student, staff, and faculty partnership is founded on the 'principles of good practices: respect, responsibility, and reciprocity (Cook-Sather, 2014) which set the tone for our relational work with faculty and students.


Students working for SATAL receive ongoing professional development on how to gather, analyze, and report findings related to classroom instructional data (e.g., use of instructional time, student engagement, learning activities, and provide confidential feedback).  Interns utilize various instruments and protocols such as Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID), Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS), focus groups, interviews, and surveys to provide instructors with accurate and actionable feedback.

Here's How it Works

  1. Instructor or program interested in SATAL support submits a Request Form.
  2. SATAL coordinator contacts the instructor or program representative to confirm the type of support requested (see options below).
  3. SATAL interns collaborate with the requesting faculty member to gather confidential classroom data on the course or program and provide faculty with a summary of findings.
  4. SATAL interns, coordinator/CETL staff, and instructor meet to discuss report findings and suggestions to close the assessment cycle.
  5. Instructor or program representative provides feedback about SATAL support using the Feedback Form.

Assessment Support Provided by SATAL

Assessment support options for instructional faculty interested in collecting the student learning experience at different times during the semester:

  • Mid/End-course Feedback: provides a quick way to informing faculty about what is working and/or what is not working so that timely instructional adjustments may be made. Student facilators will collect feedback and write a summary report of findings [see mid-semester_feedback.pdf]
  • Class Observation: observers make an anecdotal record of what goes on in the classroom with regard to time spent in questioning, board work, small group discussion, etc. SATAL interns may employ 1) the Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS) for those interested in collecting information on the range and frequency of various teaching practices. [see sample_results.pdf] [COPUS guidelines] [cdop_ho_.pdf] [COPUS HO] and 2) the Laboratory Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (LOPUS) in order to characterize TAs' isntructional styles in a labaratory. LOPUS captures both students' and TAs' behaviors every 2 min as well as initiators of verbal interactions and the nature of these verbal interactions - NEW!
  • Focus groups: SATAL interns facilitate discussion with in-class students, collect the data, and produce a professional summary report. [see sample report]

Some important features of SATAL assessment support

 SATAL students receive professional development in data collection, analysis, and reporting.
  • Summary reports are descriptive and objective (as opposed to prescriptive, evaluative); they simply describe student learning experiences in a course.
  • Students in their classes are allowed to reflect on their course experience in a non-threatening manner since this assessment data collection is carried out by their peers who create a respectful and collaborative environment for students to speak freely.
  • All findings are confidential and not shared with anyone except the instructor or program representative that made the request.
  • Instuctors can use findings for ongoing classroom assessment, in support for their teaching awards and/or tenure and promotion materials, and action-research purposes. Findings can be insightful in assessing student learning outcomes.


To Get Started

 Request Form to partner with SATAL
* Upon faculty request, SATAL collects and analyzes evidence of the student learning experience for formative assessment purposes.  Faculty could utilize SATAL reports as one type of evidence in support of their teaching effectiveness. SATAL reports are confidential and not intended to be used as a summative evaluation of faculty performance, unless faculty decide to do so.