Report of the Student Rating of Faculty Instruction Committee
for academic year, 1998-99
The committee on the Student Rating of Faculty Instruction has the following recommendations to Faculty Council:
1. Current Evaluation Form.
We recommend that for several reasons the current form not be changed with one minor exception. The committee would like the form continued as is to establish a baseline. The five question form we have now for computing medians has been in place for only two years. The committee considered
but rejected the idea of adding additional questions. Students on the committee stated that it was their impression that many students were inattentive to evaluations which had a lengthy number of questions. Some departments are still adding their own questions to the form. Also, we want to retain a system which allows faculty an opportunity to add questions that might help them improve their teaching.
The exception is that there is a statement on the present form that the comments students make are sent to the provost, dean, and department head in addition to the faculty member teaching the class. That is not true. The comments go only to the department head and the individual faculty member. This is in accordance with a resolution that Faculty Council passed two years ago. Dick Gruetzemacher of Institutional Research promises that the erroneous statement will be eliminated the next time that forms are printed.
2. Improvement of Teaching.
The committee was concerned that the student evaluations have so far mainly been used for evaluation rather than improvement of teaching. We recognize that the comments section is, in fact, useful for improvement of teaching, but the comments are collected towards the end of the semester and faculty do not see them all grades have been turned in. For faculty interested in improving their courses, it would be better to have earlier feedback. Based on a presentation made to the committee by Karen Adsit, Director of the Walker Teaching Center, the committee recommends the following:
a)Faculty make use of the Centers resources. Karen stands ready to help faculty in a variety of ways. For example, it would be possible to administer some type of questionnaire in a given class early in the semester to see what is working and what is not. When the student evaluations are handed out to students later, follow-up questions could be added to the form. The purpose of asking students such questions would be solely to improve teaching. The results would not go to department heads or any other administrator--unless the faculty member chose to share them.
b)The committee also recommends the creation of a Peer Review Panel. Department heads could nominate faculty within their departments recognized for good teaching. The nominations would go to Karen Adsit. Faculty willing to serve on the panel would have to attend some type of training seminar. They would visit the classrooms of faculty who requested their services. Any recommendations that the peer reviewers made would not be used for evaluative purposes. Department heads would not be informed of the comments of the peer reviewers. The committee also thought that the reviewers should always cross disciplinary boundaries--e.g., an English teacher might evaluate the teaching of an instructor of chemistry. The focus of the evaluation would obviously be on pedagogical method rather than content. Information about the Peer Review panel will go on a WEB site and also be distributed on Raven. It will go into operation sometime next fall.
3. Evaluation of Faculty Instruction.
The committee was also concerned that there has been inappropriate use by administrators of the student evaluations. The committee believes that such mistakes are based on misunderstanding rather than malice. Karen Adsit and Dick Gruetzemacher have volunteered to prepare a tip sheet for administrators on how to interpret the numerical data generated by the evaluations. They will do so early next fall before reappointment of untenured faculty must be considered. The tip sheet will also be distributed to all faculty via RAVEN and will be accessible on a WEB site. The committee is also aware that there is some concern that occasionally department heads have misrepresented the quality of faculty teaching by
selective editing of comments on the student evaluations. Faculty who feel that their teaching has been so misrepresented are urged to insert all the comments from the evaluations in their EDO folders.
4. Gender Bias.
The committee also considered the issue of gender bias on the student evaluations. Some studies do show that students rate male faculty higher than female faculty on student evaluations. However, according to Karen Adsit and Dick Gruetzemacher, most studies do not so indicate. To ascertain if there is a problem at UTC, the committee asked Dick Gruetzemacher to investigate. The only practical way to do that was to compute means on the responses to our five question form. Using the most recent data from the student evaluations, Dr. Gruetzemacher found there was no bias against female faculty. If anything, they did slightly better than male faculty. Here are the results of his investigation:
Full Time Faculty Adjunct
Female Male Female Male
Question 1 5.41 5.34 5.37 5.34
Question 2 5.31 5.17 5.31 5.28
Question 3 5.59 5.60 5.58 5.56
Question 4 5.59 5.57 5.68 5.60
Question 5 5.45 5.42 5.56 5.50
Mike Russell, Chair of Student Rating of Faculty Instruction Committee