Plan to put teacher evaluations online discussed at meeting
Published: Saturday, March 12, 2011
Updated: Saturday, March 12, 2011 22:03
Last Tuesday, the Joint Committee on Student Evaluation of Courses and Teaching met for the first time in several years to discuss whether or not Baruch will ask students to fill out their evaluations of their professors online.
According to Dennis Slavin, associate provost at Baruch,
most of the faculty and administrators at the meeting favored putting the student evaluations online.
"We discussed moving from paper to online. There would be huge savings of money, and trees, if it went online. It would be infinitely more efficient," said Slavin. "There's a literal cost, and the cost of peoples' time."
The reasoning behind this possibility is not only economic, however. Slavin said that only about 80 percent of classes currently get evaluated. If a teacher forgets, or decides not to administer a student evaluation, "it just doesn't get administered," said Slavin. He said that teacher's contracts say that they need to be evaluated.
Slavin said that putting the evaluations online might allow for more classes to get evaluated.
Ben Guttmann, president of USG and the only student member present at the meeting, disagreed. "I am initially hesitant to move the process online, for I fear that response rates will drop precipitously," he wrote in an email.
Slavin conceded that student evaluations might suffer a drop in response rates if put online, but said that he "wasn't convinced," by Guttmann's argument.
The meeting also explored other aspects of the student evaluation process. "We discussed making it mandatory to report them online," said Slavin. Currently, professors retain the right to keep their evaluation results from being displayed online.
"Personally, I'd love for all of them to be there," said Slavin.
"One of our goals this semester, and this ties in with the Student Bill
of Rights and Responsibilities, is to make Baruch's professor
evaluations more accessible for students, particularly at the time and
place we most need that information: class registration," said Guttmann. "We have
recommended that a link to the existing evaluations be included in the
course registration appointment email and on eSIMS."
Teacher evaluation results can be found at www.baruch.cuny.edu/campus/ under "Course and Teaching Evaluation Results."
Slavin underscored the importance of these evaluations for students, faculty, and the administration. "Beyond the obvious use for students," he said, referring to the ability for students to choose a course based on how well it has been rated by other Baruch students, professors also value the evaluations as a form of feedback on their work.
The administration uses the evaluations for personnel decisions as well, according to Slavin. In personnel decisions, "It can be make or break," he said.
As the forms work currently, students, administrators, and teachers all get to see the results of the multiple-choice portion of the evaluation. Only the professors get to see the written portion.
"We're going to look at the instrument itself," said Slavin. "We also plan to hold focus groups and surveys. Are we asking the right questions? Are we asking too many questions?"