Student Evaluation Instrument Questions and Discussion

At the Oct. 23 meeting, Faculty Council discussed possible questions for the Student Evaluation Instrument currently under development. Below you will find some links and documents that have informed the discussion.

THE ISSUE:
1. Faculty Council (FC) is responsible for the Student Evaluation Instrument.
2. FC has been apprised that the software supporting the Scantron system (the fill-in-the-bubble sheets used for years) is no longer viable. An online instrument has been developed and piloted. It is a work in progress, and, while there is general support to see it developed, no vote has been taken to mandate its use.
3. There are currently 14 questions (used on the Scantron sheet) that were approved many years ago by FC. These are the default questions until FC votes to change them.
4. It is generally agreed that the current system and questions are not particularly useful.

WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU:
1. The College Online Policy and Procedure System (COPPS) for Student Evaluation of Instruction states that “Evaluations are required of all full- and part-time faculty.” Click here for a full explanation.
2. COPPS also states that “A modification of this system may be arranged through Faculty Council.” This will be the primary topic of discussion at the next FC meeting.
3. Article 13.8 in the LCC Faculty Contract states:
13.8    Use of Regular Student Evaluations.  The regular student evaluations of classes may be used in evaluations of faculty provided:

1. The evaluation instrument was properly used;
2. The faculty member received copies of the complete results of the evaluation within a month of the end of the course in which the evaluation was solicited;
3. Any concerns raised by the evaluation results were given in writing to the faculty member within a month of the end of the course for which it was given;
4. Alternative explanations for the concerns raised through student evaluations will be solicited from the faculty member in writing and the responsible department/division chair/manager will respond with a written assessment of the possible alternative explanations for the concerns; and
5. Anomalous results were discounted.
13.8.1 Timeliness. Faculty members shall receive the complete results of student evaluations no later than thirty (30) working days after the end of the course in which the evaluation was solicited, or sooner when possible.

WHAT WE ARE ASKING OF YOU:
1. Please consider two things: The method of doing student evaluations, and the types of questions you would like to see used. Keep in mind that the purpose of the Student Evaluations is to provide “…one method for evaluating the teaching component of the learning environment.” And also that “Evaluation questions were selected to provide information for a faculty member to create a better learning environment and to become a better teacher.” (Both quotes from COPPS.)
2. Feel free to join the discussion on this blog. To help inform your thinking, click through the links below. Each includes a short identification for context.

LINKS TO RESOURCES AND INFORMATION
Faculty Evaluations Resources Website. Built in 2013 by Bert Pooth. An excellent resource for background and context of the Student Evaluation process at LCC. This is a Moodle page in which everyone can enroll. To do so, log on to your Moodle home page, scroll down to “Programs and Groups” then click on “Faculty Evaluations Resources Website.” This will take you to an “enrollment key” page. Type in “instructor” and you will be enrolled. Thereafter, you will have access to this website through your Moodle page.

List of suggestions for questions, gathered from LCC deans by Administration Executive Team. This is a pdf file that you can download and open.

Scantron sheet with questions adopted in 2001. A pdf file you can download and open.

Portland Community College Course Evaluation Questions. Includes questions for Face to Face and Distance Learning courses. Also includes SAC (Subject Area Committee) Level and Instructor Level questions.

University of Oregon Online Course Evaluations. Adopted as replacement for Scantron paper evaluations.

Oregon State University Standard Questions. Used for all courses, with ability for instructor to add questions specific to a course.

Iowa State University Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. This page has sample questions. Check out the left navigation bar for links to further resources providing background and context.

Thanks for your participation in this important discussion and decision-making process. The final decision will affect all of us, and this is your opportunity to be involved at whatever level you prefer.

9 thoughts on “Student Evaluation Instrument Questions and Discussion

  1. Bert Pooth

    Hi all,
    The council had a lengthy (as in multi-year) discussion about student evaluations of classes several years back. The majority of faculty members that contributed to that discussion felt that a single instrument for all classes didn’t work, or even make sense. On the other hand, it was realized that for evaluations to be meaningful, it was important to give students the opportunity to respond to a number of specific issues, ranging from the classroom environment to the teacher’s effectiveness. So, the council drew up and adopted a set of principles that would guide the building of evaluation instruments (available at the Moodle site).
    While many faculty members continue to use the generalized form, a number of us realized we could get much richer feedback by building our own instruments (following the adopted principles, of course). After I started using my own evaluation, I learned a number of valuable things about my teaching that no student had ever mentioned during the earlier years when I was using the generalized form.
    I believe there are two reasons for this:
    1) The students can tell when the form comes from their teacher, and not some disembodied “higher up”. When that is the case, they are much more likely to believe that their feedback will be used to improve teaching.
    2) When students see the same canned form over and over in each course, they are less likely to pay attention to it. Their responses are matters of rote rather than considered critiques.
    I believe the council should first decide what it is that the evaluations are supposed to do, and then think about the best method for achieving that goal. Starting with a type of instrument (electronic, in this case) and then trying to fit that to the goal is not likely to provide the best result.
    The last time we talked about student evaluations, the administration strongly advocated for a single instrument. They were not, however, able to give a meaningful reason for this approach. One argument they made was that the accreditors required it, but that turned out not to be the case. I know from personal communications, that a number of faculty members feared the student evaluation process because they believed the administration could use evaluations against the faculty, even though the contract has very specific language addressing that possibility. A few cynics on the faculty thought it was possible that this fear was the real reason for the administration’s one-size-fits-all position. Personally, I find it hard to believe that administrators would take such an anit-learning approach.
    One last thought:
    Times change, stuff happens, etc. If the council decided that it was time to review the guiding principles, I would consider that a worthwhile exercise. Deciding exactly what questions every faculty member needs to ask their students is not.
    Bert

    Reply
  2. Phyllis Nissila

    “If the council decided that it was time to review the guiding principles, I would consider that a worthwhile exercise. Deciding exactly what questions every faculty member needs to ask their students is not.”

    Nevertheless, I still find developing questions specific to what information I want to glean from my students in a given class worthwhile. 😉

    To that end, I look forward to reviewing the information linked and responding to this opportunity.

    Thank you,
    Phyllis

    Reply
  3. Pat Boleyn

    Hello:
    I have not read all of the material that you provide with links above, but I have taught at LCC for over ten years. I think online evaluations are fine, as long as the instructor has time during a class to have the students fill them out. I don’t think the students will take time to complete the evaluation if asked to do so outside of the class time.

    I think the evaluations are very important and am glad you are working on this. The actual questions on the previous paper evaluations were good ones.

    I would like to be able to review your final tool, when you complete that.

    Thank you for your hard work on this,
    Pat Boleyn

    Reply
  4. Eric Kim

    This topic should not be discussed on a blog. There should be an all-faculty meeting and discussion brought up in department meetings. The internet is not a good way to have this discussion.

    Eric Kim

    Reply
  5. Bert Pooth

    I’ve reviewed the list of suggested questions collected by the deans, and I’m curious as to what their objectives are. I will discuss just one example: the ‘most highly valued’ question: “Overall, the instructor has been an effective teacher”. What if students answer that with a ‘no’? What am I supposed to do with that? That would do no good for me, for the students or for anyone else in the world. Open ended questions, like “What could I do to make it easier for you to understand concepts?” or “What do I do that you think inhibits learning?” will generate responses that I can wrap my hands around and work with. But just “Was I effective?” Useless. The only thing a question like that is good for is to JUDGE the faculty member. Okay, but to what end?
    It almost seems that some folks just want to give the students an opportunity to get back at the evil teachers for giving them homework, making them study and failing to give them ‘easy A’s’. If so, that is definitely not a learning-centered attitude.
    –Bert

    Reply
  6. Kate Sullivan

    So,
    I don’t know if this has been covered already, but I hope that we ask students some questions that might help contextualize their responses:
    e.g.,
    What grade do you expect to earn in this class?
    What level of work was expected in this course compared to other X-credit courses? Less than, the same, more than, double the amount . ..

    How often did you attend class? I never missed, 1-2, 3-4. 5-6, more than 6.

    Reply
    1. Christina Howard

      I’ve reviewed the Dean’s and Directors suggestion for evaluation of instruction.

      I agree with Kate – setting some context for the questions and using a student-first questioning approach will help with reflective responses about the student experience in the course.

      A foundation of teaching and learning is that faculty members have expert knowledge in 1) how humans learn and 2) strong disciplinary knowledge associated with their teaching assignment.

      What is missing from the assessment is a specific statement of how effective the teacher was in making disciplinary knowledge accessible to them so they can make sense of it in a way that is meaningful. Generic statements about “using effective teaching methods” do not ask the learner to assess if they are now equipped to “make sense” within the respective discipline.

      Instead of assessing if “the instructor helped students understand the course material and find answers to relevant questions”, consider asking, “the instructor helped me understand how to form relevant questions and deepen my understanding of the subject area”. Do we want students to understand “course material” (a content-driven model of education) or are faculty more interested in how students perceive the value of their experience in the course as a learner/critical thinker? Will all students have the same schema for “enhance my learning”, or can we take steps to frame what this means?

      Two additional questions I have :
      Will the survey include qualitative/open ended text fields?
      Did the Deans and Directors consult the Quality Matters rubric to align with online instruction frameworks?

      Reply
  7. Rachel Shelly

    Will students access this evaluation tool through MyLane? (not all ABSE students are using MyLane)
    Are they expected to fill it out during class time, or on their own?(computer access may be an issue)
    I know OSU withholds grades until the evaluations are completed (or up to a certain date). What is going to be the incentive for students to fill these out?

    Reply
  8. David Van Slyke

    I would like to see two sources of feedback, one focusing on THE CLASS and the other about THE INSTRUCTOR.

    The former could trivially be hosted by each division as “quiz” in a Moodle meta-class that includes ALL classes offered by the division that term. Its questions could be general items not specific to the instructor, such as “If you took a placement test, did it appropriately guide you into the right math class?” or “Did the class content match the course catalog description?”

    A second class-specific evaluation (using the new software) could then have questions about my effectiveness and role as the instructor.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *