In an effort to improve student teaching evaluations, the University of Idaho Teaching and Advising Committee is reviewing the process and compiling recommendations.
UI Faculty Senate Chair Kenton Bird said a low response rate raises concerns among some faculty members about the accuracy and usefulness of the evaluations.
Until 2001, evaluations came in paper form and were administered during a specific week each semester.
Rates were higher when evaluations were done on paper, in class,” he said.
Bird said other faculty members are concerned about “outliers” in evaluation score averages.
“Other faculty members have been concerned that one or two students who have had a bad experience in the class can unfairly skew the results by giving a zero or one, when the rest of the class rates a class or instructor at a three or four,” he said.
The committee is required to review the evaluation process every five years — the last review was in 2008, so this spring marks the end of the fifth year.
TEAC presented its report to the faculty senate during an April 26 meeting, which included current research regarding the best practices for higher education teaching evaluations, compiled by undergraduate committee member Shannon Gill.
Research concluded that in order for the evaluations to be successful, teachers and students must understand the purpose and uses of them and questions are best if they refer to specific teaching behaviors — overall ratings do not provide an accurate representation and are easily influenced by mood or potential biases.
The committee also provided suggestions in its report. Bird said one is that TEAC provides a set of recommendations to faculty about ways to administer evaluations, with the end goal being more responses and meaningful comments that can be used to improve the quality of teaching.
Bird said the committee’s main suggestion is to designate one specific week of the semester for evaluations, as was done with paper evaluations.
No final decisions have been made. Bird said the conversation will continue next fall and include faculty and students.
Britt Kiser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
To read a full summary of the Teaching and Advising Committee’s report visit: http://tinyurl.comcxqcqpq.