This latest draft reflects the results of our phone conversation with Bob Froh
last Monday, April 7th.
To: Academic Council
From: Ad Hoc Committee for the Evaluation of Teaching
Date: August 28th, 2003, Amended October 2nd, 2003 (amendments are emphasized in color)
Re: Recommendations to Improve the Evaluation of Teaching at Elon
with the task of examining current methods of evaluation of teaching at Elon
and making suggestions for improvement, this Committee has solicited input from
Elon’s academic community. We have
conducted interviews with department chairs, worked with Dr. Robert Froh of the New England Association of
Colleges and Schools (who led a Numen Lumen session on March 7, 2003), and
incorporated feedback from faculty in our deliberations. The modest amount of comment that we
received from faculty suggests . However, s
in the current system
that we have received indicate only a modest dissatisfaction with Elon’s
current system for evaluation of teaching.
However, the committee wishes to take a proactive leadership role with
its recommendations to improve the system.
and department chairs.
We have been asked
to address a number of issues: Articulated opinions on teaching evaluation are
diverse. To a degree, there
is the perception
that hiring, retention and promotion decisions are made based on a narrow
spectrum of information
Junior faculty, especially individuals
up for promotion/tenure
focus their concern on 1) the weight placed on Student Evaluations of
Teaching (SETs)and 2) the dominant role department chairs play in observing and judging
the faculty member’s ability in the classroom.
With respect to the criteria (See Appendix) tSET effectively assesses # 1, 2, 6, 7 & 8. A
single form, however,
addition to an evaluation form specifically designed for Elon 101, another form
to provide student feedback to advisors has been developed by the Ad Hoc
Committee on Advising (
# 3, 4, 5 and 9-11 are assessed primarily by department chairs and individual
Contrary to the perception mentioned above, department chairs have
clearly demonstrated that they use (in addition to the SET data) a variety of
sources for their evaluation of faculty.
This includes direct observation of faculty in their daily routine,
evaluations of faculty annual reports (Unit I’s), observations from other
colleagues in the department, conversations and interviews with students and
classroom observations. They have
expressed concern over the pressure to compile information and make summative
decisions rapidly. They generally want
the evaluation system to run more smoothly and swiftly than it does.
Recognizing the limits of what they can do as direct observers of faculty
teaching, they nonetheless note with concern that time is required to do more. Both chairs and deans have commented on -
Some senior faculty feel more distanced from parts of the evaluation process. This is not surprising, since they have been rigorously evaluated to earn tenure or promotion, and they are a "known quantity" to the University; there is less demand for additional evaluation. Regardless of rank and seniority, most faculty and department chairs have expressed interest in an evaluation system that is geared not only to summative judgment but also to formative development of teaching skills.
notable development is
by the AACSB(LSB) istablishinga system
for evaluation of teaching, which includes provisions for : a three-member committee of tenured peers is
selected from those LSB faculty who have tenure or professional status. They review the faculty member’s performance as
part of the mid-point evaluation and submit a letter to the Dean. For promotion/tenure evaluations, the letter
is submitted to both the Chair and Dean.
2003-04 academic year will be the
"pilot" year to implement this new system, which is designed to
complement the current system. The LSB
is also substantial diversity in the length and content of faculty Unit I’s,
which can range from very brief summaries (1-3 pages with little more than a
listing of classes taught during the year) to more voluminous reports (over 30
pages in length). The longer reports can
be a substantial burden for faculty to write and for chairs and deans to read. The current form
used for student evaluation of teaching asks students to assess the
effectiveness of teaching in accordance with selected criteria for effective
teaching specified in the Faculty Handbook: Command
of the subject matter Use
of current and relevant materials Ability
to communicate effectively with students Use
of appropriate and varied methods and strategies of teaching, assessing, and
grading However, the
current form does not assess learning activities that do not fit the
traditional classroom setting (internships, undergraduate research and
activities such as musical performances or laboratory classes in the physical,
life and social sciences). It does not
assess the effectiveness of advising. Becky O-T
comments: Evaluations of undeclared
majors has occurred in Elon 101 for years. What we’re missing is feedback from sophomores
as they declare their majors. A
web-based “advisor feedback” form is being evaluated and ”pilot” tested with
the biology department and the School of Education. The percent return rate has not yet been obtained,
nor has any analysis of the data been performed. Council recommended that specific data from
this form goes to faculty and summary data goes to chair. Faculty would have option to include this
data in their Unit I’s. Questions on the
Elon 101 evaluations do not closely parallel the advisor feedback form, but
they were developed originally for separate purposes. The administration
of SET’s in the classroom lacks some consistency; a significant number of
evaluations are done at a late date and/or in a hasty manner. Combined with the fact that SET’s are given
only for fall classes, this behavior builds a perception among students that
SET’s are not taken seriously. A significant
number of students do not have a clear perception of how SET’s contribute to
the overall evaluation of faculty. As a condition of
accreditation, the Love School of Business has already embarked on a “pilot”
year of more extensive peer review of teaching, which will be both summative
and formative. The Business School’s experience here will serve as a valuable
source of ideas and information for the University.
Student opinions of the faculty evaluation process are focused mainly on the SET forms and their administration. Students perceive that evaluations are not important when they are administered in a hasty or casual manner and/or very late in the semester, especially on the last day of classes. The lack of evaluations in spring term classes reinforces this perception. As a result, students are less motivated to provide substantive feedback to the instructor. Finally, a small percentage of students refrain from providing feedback, worried that if their handwriting is distinctive, their comments are not actually anonymous.
committee recommends the following goals to improve the evaluation of teaching at
will include a description of .
A minor brainstorm, Rosemary: Maybe we can present these recommendations at
the May faculty meeting and schedule time for comments and feedback at future
faculty meeting (like we do with by-laws changes). GENE****if there’s space on
the agenda, yes. But May meetings are notoriously packed and wild!
Implications of these Recommendations
Some recommendations above can be implemented with little time and expense. However, administration of SETs in both semesters will have substantive budget impact. Quicker turnaround of SET results might require an earlier administration date, coupled with commitment to process results more quickly. It might be necessary to use more personnel to process, analyze and disseminate SET data.
Activities to make the system more transparent to both faculty and students clearly involve decisions about when such messages will be conveyed and by whom. For example, if students are to learn more about SETs in Elon 101 classes, training of Elon 101 faculty may need to be adjusted accordingly and requisite class time may need to be set aside. Department chairs would need to set aside appropriate time in meetings for discussion of teaching evaluation.
The biggest commitment of time and money clearly comes in the establishment of peer review activities. Visiting classes, discussing teaching, and reflection and analysis require substantial amounts of time. When and where can this time be found in the life of a department? Leadership of department chairs will be crucial in motivating faculty and in establishing and then facilitating peer review activity. Members of peer review committees must enjoy the same (or a comparable) level of support and faculty trust as members of the PP&T Committee.
problematic, perhaps, is the impact on the morale or emotional temper of a
department in having faculty reviewing one another’s teaching. If the review is
summative, having impact on promotion, tenure, or even retention of faculty,
the question of who reviews whom will be one for fairly anxious