This blogpost and podcast is for our colleagues in higher educations, professors, the world over.

This is #1 in our series on teaching: Course Evaluations

You, your students, your dean, and the public.

 

The bottom line.

  • If your evaluations are not up to the expectations of those who employ you:
    • Your contract may not be renewed.
    • You may not receive a promotion.
    • You may not receive tenure.
  • Poor evaluations may indicate that you may be experiencing some dissatisfaction in your field.

This is a topic that is not commonly discussed in our work environments.

Daniel: “We don’t even talk about our rate your professor dot com ratings.”

Our goal in this series is to provide helpful advice about course evaluations from our personal experiences.

The key players surrounding course evaluations.

  • You
    • This is personal and confidential and goes to the very core of our ability to earn a living.
  • Your Students
    • Even if students are not talking so that you can hear, you can bet that they are talking about you and how they have evaluated you.
    • As evidenced by the social networks students will have formed an opinion about you.  It is all good information for you to know.
    • Do they see you as good?
    • Do they see you as an easy grader – a tough grader?
  • Your Dean
    • Understanding the position of your dean regarding course evaluations is essential.
    • The busy dean will look for strong good patterns and read student comments. They are looking for red flags like scores that are below the average. This information helps them to determine what the next step of intervention is.
    • The deans that are not that busy will use the course evaluatios as a mentoring tool to help the professor make improvements in areas where they are having difficulties.
    • Sometimes deans have to continually “put out fires” and don’t have the time to help.
  • The Public
    • The public can become aware of evaluations when the college is required to put results on web sites as part the accreditation process.
    • Know what information your college is providing to the public.

A good course evaluation will ask questions about how the students are learning. How they perceive the difficulty of the course compared to other courses. We encourage you not to dismiss those evaluations. Don’t ignore them. Our student are savvy consumers and want what is best, especially with the high cost of higher education today.

STUDENT: Am I getting what I am paying for? Is my time being well spent?

 COURSE EVALUATIONS

 

Right or control click here to download the MP3 of the Podcast.

 COMMUNITY FEEDBACK:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Jagadeesh Raj

Professor at SDM IMD

Many educational institutes are run like business models where return on investment is the prime factor to ensure sustainability. In this context the students’ view that “I pay, you deliver” becomes the focus and every activity is expected to revolve around it. If the students are not “satisfied” as expressed through their feedback then the onus of proving that the instructor did a good job rests solely on the instructor’s shoulders and the chances are very slim that the instructor gets an opportunity to do so. Thus the students’ evaluations are dreaded and unfortunately become loathsome to the teaching person as long as such feedback is not an accurate description of what happened. Secondly in many places the whole process of collecting feedback is not transparent enough to convince the instructors to say that feedback is not manipulated nor the comments are selectively picked in between the lines to prove a certain point.

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Chuck Walker

Professor at St. Bonaventure University

My first association to “Big Picture” is gaining perspective and finding meaning and purpose in life. Course evals, especially ones done halfheartedly, are about the “Little Picture” The psychological well-being, not happiness or satisfaction, of students and faculty is a bigger big picture.

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Howard Doughty

Professor at Seneca College

I respectfully disagree with the opening comment that faculty evaluations are “usually not openly discussed in our colleges.”

They are widely and hotly discussed, not only in postsecondary institutions, but also in a number of “Teaching Professor” threads.

A large number of naive instructors, intimidated and vulnerable instructors will refuse to acknowledge the fact that student evaluations of professors are normally constructed by academic managers whose main concern is not in the quality of education, but in the smooth functioning of the academic assembly-line.

Standardized curriculum, pedagogy and learning outcomes ensure that nothing of importance that strays from the pre-packaged college “experience” will be tolerated. Cookie-cutter curricula with routine multiple-choice quizzes increasingly combine with “interactive” computer software to produce a mind-deadening intellectual environment that replaces open engagement with parlor games.

The purpose of these instruments is to assert administrative control, impose industrial discipline and generate quantifiable measures of performance.

An insight into the mentality of those who seek to dominate the process of teaching and learning and to impose a corporate ideology to justify institutional policies and procedures can be found in the reference to students as “savvy customers” that pretty much defines “the big picture” – at least in the minds of careerists and profiteers.

Likening our students to customers plays the same role in undermining education that thinking of citizens as mere “taxpayers” does in our declining democracy. Neither education nor government is or ought to be considered as a “business”; yet it is the consumer-driven model in which, thanks to current cost-saving fetishes (in the form of hiring mainly contingent, contract, adjunct, sessional, partial-load, part-time and other precarious faculty, efficient control over “educational deliverables”) is turning “Associate Professors” into “Walmart Associates.”

Welcome to K-Mart Kollege!


UPCOMING PODCASTS:  

In this series we are going to talk about what is usually not discussed publicly, our course evaluations.

SC 92 #2. Course Evals: Reactions & Emotions
How we react and feel to what our students say.

SC 93 #3. Course Evals: Focus #1: What do you do well?
Acknowledging our strengths as Professors.

SC 94 #4. Course Evals: Focus #2: What are your trends?
Learning from an analysis over time.

SC 95 #5. Course Evals: Course Organization
Are we organized and is it apparent?

SC 96 #6. Course Evals: Communication
How well are we understood?

SC 97 #7. Course Evals: Faculty-Student Interaction
How do our students perceive us?

SC 98 #8. Course Evals: Grading
How is our grading perceived?

SC 99 #9. Course Evals: Learning
Do our students believe they are learning?

SC 100#10. Course Evals: Student Engagement
Are our students engaging?


 

We need your feedback so we may continue to fulfill our mission statement and help students, the world over.

Thank you!

Daniel & David

 

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SC 91 #1. Course Evals: The Big Picture