Report: Evaluation forms not useful

Most faculty members do not find the current mode of instructor evaluation useful, according to a report by the Academic Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate.

IDEA forms could be on track to be replaced by more tailored instructor evaluations if a motion related to the report carries in Faculty Senate. The forms are used to evaluate faculty.

The study found that in 2012, 41.3 percent of faculty respondents said the IDEA results were not useful in helping them think of ways to improve teaching. In 2011, 33.9 percent said the same.

Furthermore, 55.1 percent of 2012 respondents said the form is conceptually flawed.

When posed the same question in 2011, 50 percent of evaluators, which includes deans and program directors, said the form is somewhat useful. In 2012, 35.3 percent said it was somewhat useful.

Shannon Leib, a professor who serves on the committee, said the goal is not to decrease standardization but to bring faculty into the discussion.

“It’s instead of saying, ‘Here is the form; use it,’” he said. “That may be done, but it has to be done with the consultation of faculty.”

The motion, which was introduced in the Senate’s Tuesday meeting, states, “Student evaluations should be the business of the colleges, who may tailor questionnaires to the specific issues of their programs. The forms should come from the bottom up to get faculty to buy into the process and its results.”

Issues surrounding whether or not the IDEA form is an accurate gauge of teaching effectiveness mentioned in the report include the argument that the form does not fit all classes or course objectives, and that students’ written comments are more valued than numerical evaluations, but there are too many questions and not sufficient time or room for the student comments on the forms.

Few faculty members also indicated that they had any meaningful discussion as to how to improve their teaching effectiveness based on the form’s results.

It also found that faculty do not accept the concept that teacher effectiveness can be gauged by student response to the evaluations.

There was disagreement among senators about how best to discuss new ways of evaluation—whether by college or program.

Leib said the motion was not meant to dictate process.

“We’re trying to put in two sentences an entire report,” Leib said.

A vote on the motion will be taken at the Senate’s final meeting of the semester on May 1.

Despite Vote, Search Could Be Closed
Committee chair Joe Kirsch said that after an informal vote, about two-thirds of the provost search committee members were in favor of a closed provost search.
Faculty Senate voted 13-12-3 in late March to endorse an open search.

Vivian Deno, an associate professor, said that the committee’s decision flies in the face of both transparency and the vote of the Senate.

“Whatever vote we take can be put aside by an outside party and nullify the vote?” Deno asked.

Kirsch responded by saying that he did not know whether the committee was required to follow the vote.

“Two-thirds of the committee believe that your vote here is not binding,” Kirsch said.

A final decision by the search committee has not been made.