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Gary Brown

Evaluations That Make the Grade: 4 Ways to Improve Rating the Faculty - Teaching - The ... - 1 views

  • For students, the act of filling out those forms is sometimes a fleeting, half-conscious moment. But for instructors whose careers can live and die by student evaluations, getting back the forms is an hour of high anxiety
  • "They have destroyed higher education." Mr. Crumbley believes the forms lead inexorably to grade inflation and the dumbing down of the curriculum.
  • Texas enacted a law that will require every public college to post each faculty member's student-evaluation scores on a public Web site.
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  • The IDEA Center, an education research group based at Kansas State University, has been spreading its particular course-evaluation gospel since 1975. The central innovation of the IDEA system is that departments can tailor their evaluation forms to emphasize whichever learning objectives are most important in their discipline.
  • (Roughly 350 colleges use the IDEA Center's system, though in some cases only a single department or academic unit participates.)
  • The new North Texas instrument that came from these efforts tries to correct for biases that are beyond an instructor's control. The questionnaire asks students, for example, whether the classroom had an appropriate size and layout for the course. If students were unhappy with the classroom, and if it appears that their unhappiness inappropriately colored their evaluations of the instructor, the system can adjust the instructor's scores accordingly.
  • The survey instrument, known as SALG, for Student Assessment of their Learning Gains, is now used by instructors across the country. The project's Web site contains more than 900 templates, mostly for courses in the sciences.
  • "So the ability to do some quantitative analysis of these comments really allows you to take a more nuanced and effective look at what these students are really saying."
  • Mr. Frick and his colleagues found that his new course-evaluation form was strongly correlated with both students' and instructors' own measures of how well the students had mastered each course's learning goals.
  • Elaine Seymour, who was then director of ethnography and evaluation research at the University of Colorado at Boulder, was assisting with a National Science Foundation project to improve the quality of science instruction at the college level. She found that many instructors were reluctant to try new teaching techniques because they feared their course-evaluation ratings might decline.
  • "Students are the inventory," Mr. Crumbley says. "The real stakeholders in higher education are employers, society, the people who hire our graduates. But what we do is ask the inventory if a professor is good or bad. At General Motors," he says, "you don't ask the cars which factory workers are good at their jobs. You check the cars for defects, you ask the drivers, and that's how you know how the workers are doing."
  • William H. Pallett, president of the IDEA Center, says that when course rating surveys are well-designed and instructors make clear that they care about them, students will answer honestly and thoughtfully.
  • In Mr. Bain's view, student evaluations should be just one of several tools colleges use to assess teaching. Peers should regularly visit one another's classrooms, he argues. And professors should develop "teaching portfolios" that demonstrate their ability to do the kinds of instruction that are most important in their particular disciplines. "It's kind of ironic that we grab onto something that seems fixed and fast and absolute, rather than something that seems a little bit messy," he says. "Making decisions about the ability of someone to cultivate someone else's learning is inherently a messy process. It can't be reduced to a formula."
    Old friends at the Idea Center, and an old but persistent issue.
Gary Brown

As Colleges Switch to Online Course Evaluations, Students Stop Filling Them Out - The T... - 1 views

  • Colleges thought they were enhancing efficiency when they moved their course evaluations online, but an unintended consequence of the shift to evaluations not filled out in class is that students started skipping them altogether, The Boston Globe reported today.
    the letters are more interesting than the article--especially the Boston Globe link where Mazur weighs in.
    The whole issue of online evals is a big one, esp relevant as part of prog eval. Perhaps a design circle topic? (...I couldn't find Mazur's comments)
Gary Brown

Higher Education: Assessment & Process Improvement Group News | LinkedIn - 1 views

    lots about program effectiveness implied here, notably having good teachers in succession.
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