Current students can comment on an instructor's ability to communicate clearly, the extent and level of the instructor's course preparation, whether the instructor makes effective use of class time, how sensitive and responsive the instructor is to difficulties students may be having in the course, the workload, and so on. Students should not be used to judge the adequacy, relevance, and timeliness of the course content nor the breadth of the instructor's knowledge and scholarship.
COMMITTEE ON TEACHING
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ADMINISTERING AND ANALYZING STUDENT COURSE EVALUATIONS
(adopted from Evaluating Teaching: Handbook of Ideas by the Office of Educational Development)
Student course evaluations (or student ratings) are one source of data about teaching. Although departments may use any type of evaluation form to obtain student opinion, since 1975 it has been required that students numerically rate each instructor on the following question:
"Considering both the limitations and possibilities of the subject matter and course, how would you rate the overall teaching effectiveness of this instructor?"
1 (not at all effective) - 2 - 3 - 4 (moderately effective) - 5 - 6 - 7 (extremely effective)
It is recommended that departmental evaluation forms give students the opportunity both to numerically rate instructors and to comment narratively on instructors' performance.
Frequency of administration. Every course should be evaluated by students each time it is offered. Evaluation data from each course should be included in the dossier for personnel review, with the following exceptions: New assistant professors may choose not to have data from their first year of teaching reported, and experienced faculty members teaching new or experimental courses for the first time may decide to omit evaluation data from their review.
Procedures for administering student evaluation forms. Departments have the prerogative to determine the nature of their questionnaire, but procedures for administering forms should be fair and standardized across campus, and systematic efforts should be made to obtain student evaluations of courses. A recommended procedure is described below:
- A set number of blank evaluation forms are distributed to each faculty member for each class.
- Sufficient class time is designated for students to fill out questionnaires (evaluations are best not distributed at the final exam, when students have other things on their minds, but rather during the last two weeks of the term).
- Students are informed about the purpose of the evaluation.
- The instructor designates a student from the class (or a staff person) to supervise the evaluation.
- Students complete the questionnaires while the faculty member is absent from the room.
- The designated student (or departmental staff person) collects the evaluation forms and places them in an envelope, noting on the outside the insructor's name, the course number, the total number of students present, the total number of forms collected and the date. The student then signs the envelope and files it with the department.
- The responses are summarized (using a computer, if possible, for quantitative questions) by the staff or designated group and made available to the instructor only after final grades have been submitted.
- Summaries of the numerical ratings and qualitative comments are maintained in secure departmental files.
Procedures for analyzing student evaluation forms. Whether the data are summarized by hand or by computer, it is recommended that:
- The summary include the number of completed questionnaires upon which the summary data are based on the percentage of class enrollment represented by the data. If summaries indicate less than two-thirds return of student evaluations, an explanation for the missing data must be included.
- Data be summarized separately for each offering of each course. (Aggregating data for several different courses may obscure differences in teaching effectiveness for various kinds of instruction and may raise questions of proper weighting of the responses in each course. Aggregating data for several offerings of the same course may obscure long-term trends toward increased or decreased student satisfaction.)
- If fewer than 10 student questionnaires for a course, they should not be summarized but simply included in the dossier. Student questionnaires from indepenent reading courses or seminars with small enrollments may be accumulated over several terms and summaried when their numbers are sufficiently large.
- If there are more than 10 student questionnaires, for questions that are quantifiable, the summary should include:
a. frequency distribution of student ratings for each item;
b. average response, specified as either the mean, mode, or median;
c. departmenal norms (averages) or comparison norms on key items for courses of a similar size, level, and kind of instruction (e.g., laboratory seminar, lecture, studio).
- If there are more than 10 student questionnaires, for questions that are qualitative, the responses (or a representative sample in large classes) should be summarized by the departmental staff or designated group in such a way that the full range of comments as well sa their preponderance is accurately represented.
Departments should retain raw student evaluation data for three years for all faculty; summary information (including statistical data and syntheses of open ended responses) should become a permanent part of the teacher's file.
Department chairs should meet with faculty members whose ratings are significantly below departmental norms to advise them of ways they might improve their teaching and to inform them of the campus resource for instructional improvement, the Center for Teaching and Learning.