Original Committee Membership (98-99): Larry Basirico, John Burbridge, Jim Drummond, Dave Nawrocki (chair), Maurice Levesque, Deborah Thurlow (former member)
Current Committee Membership:
Larry Basirico (chair), John Burbridge, Jim Drummond, Maurice Levesque
Problems with Current Instrument
The Ad Hoc Committee on the Student Evaluation Instrument was organized
in the spring of 1998 to review the current student evaluation of faculty
instrument and to propose any needed changes. The committee identified
the following problems with the current instrument:
1. Current instrument is too long in terms of administration
and providing feedback that
is useful for faculty (self-assessment), chairs and deans.
2. Current instrument is difficult to use comprehensively for
both evaluative and
3. Current instrument has redundant, ambiguous, or irrelevant
questions, which makes
it difficult to measure the quality of teaching.
4. Current instrument lacks questions that measure essential teaching
qualities, which can
be applied across all of the disciplines.
5. On the current instrument, it is not clear what the single
indicator question ("Overall,
I rate this a good instructor") measures and it may not necessarily be a measure of
6. Currently, there is a lack of uniformity in the control
and administration of the
II. Principles for developing new instrument
Keeping in mind the above problems, the committee developed a new instrument
based upon the following principles:
1. Instrument should be based upon elements of quality teaching
that traverse all
disciplines. Much of this was formed by the standards of assessing quality teaching
presented by Linda Nilson.
2. Questions should be clear and unambiguous.
3. Results of the instrument should be more easily accessible
both for evaluative and
4. Any single indicators of quality of teaching should not
be based upon a single question
but, rather, be based upon a summary of all elements of quality teaching addressed by
5. Evaluation of the course should not be included with an
evaluation of the instructor.
The committee recognizes that evaluation of courses may be of importance for
programmatic reasons, but feels that since the student evaluation instrument plays a part
in faculty member's evaluation with regard to raises, promotion, tenure, and
professionalization, faculty members should neither suffer nor benefit from any
evaluations stemming from the course itself.
6. The instrument should address items that students are in
a position to evaluate. For
example, students are not in a position to evaluate whether or not the readings or the
type of assignmetns are appropriate to the level of the course. This suggestion also
comes from Linda Nilson.
7. Administration of the instrument should include specific
instructions about when the
instrument should be administered, instructions as to the class conditions (e.g., not
to be administered when returning papers or exams), and a specific statement to be
read by the administering person. The committee considered the possibility of
requesting that administering the instrument be by trained personnel (e.g., secretaries,
advising staff, honors students,e tc.) and would like to call attention to the benefits.
However, the committee also recognizes the logistical problems associated with
this and, therefore, does not offer it as a specific part of its overall recommendation
at this time.
8. The results of the instrument should include a mean scale
for each item as well as
the standard deviation, an indicator of the range of responses given.
III. Potential Shortcomings for proposed instrument
The committee recognizes that there are still shortcomings with the proposed
instrument, but also that the benefits of the proposed instrument outweigh
these shortcomings. The committee identified the following shortcomings:
1. Each item is given equal weight. The committee recognizes
that different courses
and different disciplines may give different weight to the items depending upon the
situation. However, our goal was to develop an instrument that could be used
college-wide and to identify elements of quality teaching that all professors should
strive toward mastering.
2. The proposed instrument may not address teaching qualities
that may be specific to
some disciplines or some courses. Once again, our intent was to develop an
instrument broad enough to cut across all disciplines without introducing items that
might be irrelevant to other disciplines or courses. To mitigate against failing to
address qualities that may be deemed important within a specific discipline, there will
be room on the proposed instrument for additional items. However, the committee
proposes these items be excluded from the summary indicator and be used primarily
for formative purposes.
3. The proposed instrument does not include an evaluation of
the course. As noted above,
this omission was intentional. The committee recommends that if course evaluation is to
take place, it should be a separate process from the evaluation of faculty.
4. The committee recognizes the omission of any questions that
measures the extent to
which students feel they have achieved the learning objectives. However, this omission
was intentional since the committee feels that student performance in a class is not
necessarily under the control of the faculty.
IV. Pilot Study
The proposed instrument was offered
as a pilot to 25 sections in Spring, 1999 (N=634
students). Professors were asked to report, informally, about their experiences with the
proposed instrument and for any feedback. Responses were highly favorable.
The results of the pilot survey were calculated
for each course taught by each professor and
for all courses (25) combined. The results (attached) are of the combined results so as to
respect the anonymity promised to the professors.
Some general comments about the statistical
Results of the new evaluation forms, Spring 1999
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