Monday, March 12, 2007

Student Evaluations at SIU - more data

I received this from from a friend.

I sent the document over to Todd and he was nice enough to put in on my server for me. I wrote him an email that said something like, can you believe they are handing this out? He responded,
I guess it isn't a shocker, because I've had it read to me before.
I realize that I'm not an "expert," like some of the professors who have been commenting on my earlier entries about this grade inflation, student evaluations, management pressure, and higher GPA threads. But this seems fairly clear and a quick survey of students in arms reach, seem to indicate this is SIU's reality today. I'm not claiming this about 100% of the classes, maybe it is only 20%, 40%, 60% or 80%?

Only by getting out of your little silo of knowledge will you know for sure.

Your comments are welcome.


Anonymous said...

What is your objection to that form? Are you saying that student evaluations should not be part of the evaluation process for faculty?

What alternative methods should be used to evaluate competency in the classroom? Are you aware of the kinds of questions asked on the evaluation forms? Do you know exactly how much weight is placed on student evaluations when determining promotion or salary increases?


Peter in Carbondale said...

Pandering for better evaluations by giving students better grades. Leads to less learning, leads to decline in the reputations and results of the university.

Haven't you read the rest of these threads? This has been hashed out pretty well.

You have anything to contribute or is this just a trolling comment?

Anonymous said...

You make a big leap in concluding that by allowing students the opportunity to evaluate a professor's performance in a class amounts to 'pandering.' Student evaluations are completed prior to the end of the semester, before students know their final grades. I have no doubt that there is a correlation between how a student feels they are doing in a class and how they evaluate the professor. I still think that it is a stretch to conclude that such a connection leads to grade inflation.

I ask again, what alternatives should be used in the place of student evaluations? In the other threads you have provided only anecdotal evidence that salary and tenure decisions are driven by student evaluations. To point that out is hardly trolling.


Peter in Carbondale said...

I have written about that in detail several times. Go look it up. In summary, I think the managers should manage.

Anonymous said...

In my college, the typical role allocation is 40% teaching, 40% research, and 20% service.

On average, student evaluations make up approximately 20% to 30% of the faculty member's overall annual evaluation.

In my view this weighting is a little high, but current students should have some say.

Having said that, I would prefer a different evaluation metric to dominate in my teaching evaluations.

Perhaps the following weighting scheme could be used to evaluate the teaching part of my job: (1/4) current student evaluation; (1/4) peer evaluation [faculty member]; (1/4) outside evaluation [perhaps a local alum who wants to give back to SIU]; (1/4) former student evaluation [poll recent graduates who are 3 or more years out].

Admittedly, this suggestion would be expensive relative to the current system. However, once in place, and if used widely, could be feasible. Former students and alumni would be involved, and therefore, remain attached and interested in how the university is performing.

I believe the benefits would outweigh the costs.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I've read your other posts on grade inflation, and you offer no alternatives to student evaluations. And your comment about 'managers managing' is cliched and meaningless. At least I now understand that you aren't interested in exchanging ideas and debating the issue and are simply using this blog as a vehicle to project your own ego. You either refuse to post comments that you take you to task on issues where you can't defend your position intelligently, or you repeat hackneyed and flippant statements over and over.

Scott McClurg said...

As far as evaluations go, I've never been a big fan of them because I think 1) its blatantly unfair to the instructor to have students anonymously "grading" them [they know who is grading them and the pissed off ones aren't afraid to say mean and nasty things that aren't fair] and 2) they measure a lot of things other than teaching performance. They're useful to a point, but only to a point.

To me the point is improving in the classroom, rather than seeing how popular I am with my students. Towards that end, I've made an effort to solicit peer evaluations as frequently as possible and to use more pointed open-ended questions in an effort to find out what the students think about specific aspects of a class. For example, one of the questions I ask my students is whether they make use of different components of my course web-page. And, if they don't, to explain why not. I've received some fairly good input on how to make the page more accessible and on ways to explain to them why they ought to use it. I get a fair amount of the, "You expect us to know too much" stuff. However, I can use my own judgment as to what constitutes "too much."

If you care about this as part of merit pay (and here we're talking about at most 50-percent of part of a 3% other words, a handful of dollars at most), then the peer evaluations are probably the best way to get feedback while maintaining standards as well. (All of this is in my opinion, of course.)

Peter in Carbondale said...

To Comment #5 -
It takes time to educate people with closed minds. I have spent some time, but I clearly don't have enough time to satisfy you.

It is OK with me if you keep living the dream of great results at SIU. The students are great, the results are great, the professors are great. What can I say, "Don't Worry, Be Happy!"

Thank you for helping me see the true path of enlightenment.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Thanks Scott for a helpful reply.

Clearly there are best practices in this area and they are easy to research. If SIU would harness the research in Education Sociology for example and start to apply some simple best practices, it would be a great start.

But, first the professors of SIU need to take the first step of the 12 step recovery plan and admit there is a problem. I guess the second step might be to take action?

As far as what percentage extra of money you get and how that does effect the actions of employees, we have been over that already. Scott thinks he is not effected and I'm willing to agree with him on this point. But again if you go look at the research, it is clear that people are willing to pimp themselves out over a 1% pay raise. They do it consistently and year after year. They are willing to do it for no money, if you give them a free tee-shirt too.