Faculty evaluation is an important process that students engage in each year at SHSU.
Students evaluate their professors by filling out a sheet with various questions, then bubble in answers on a scantron the way they would for a test. These evaluations serve as a means for assessing the performances of many instructors or professors and to serve as a means of determining if a professor is qualified for tenure or merit pay.
After students complete their evaluations, someone besides the professor takes them to the departmental secretary.
The forms are then sent to computer services where the data is analyzed and sent to the department chair. The professor never sees the evaluation forms.
Comments on these forms are typed out by the departmental secretary, and they go into a file that the professor reviews at the end of the semester only after final grades are posted.
The department chair reviews the comments during the semester if the comments are serious enough in nature, otherwise they are reviewed thoroughly at the end of the semester.
Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Terry Thibodeaux said the student evaluation is not the only part of the evaluation process, but it is a very important part of it.
Thibodeaux said evaluations are important because they help some professors receive tenure.
“Tenure is a protection of academic freedom of the professor. It’s a reward for years of service,” Thibodeaux said.
Once a professor is tenured, it is more difficult to remove. If a professor is not tenured, he or she is called probational faculty.
For professors to become tenured, they must have their doctorate degree, and six years of experience at SHSU. Professors can transfer a maximum of three years from another university as part of the six years.
Evaluations play an important role if professors wish to be tenured.
“It’s very difficult to be tenured if your evaluations are not good,” Thibodeaux said.
Thibodeaux said some faculty members who aren’t looking to be tenured are on one year contracts. They are evaluated once a semester, and if they aren’t doing a good job, they simply don’t get asked back.
Evaluations also help professors receive merit pay or a pay raise.
“If teaching evaluations are very poor, it’s very difficult to get merit pay,” Thibodeaux said. “If you’re getting merit raises every time they’re available, then you’re considered to be doing a good job.”
Some students feel that the evaluations are not serving their purpose because students don’t receive any feedback about the evaluations, or they don’t see any drastic changes or results after the evaluation process.
Graduating senior Becca Ross said the questions on the evaluations are logical, but no improvements are made in the class structure or the professor.
“If you write comments on the evaluations you would think they would do something about it, but the same professors have the same problems every semester. It doesn’t seem that they use them to make improvements, so what’s the point?,” Ross said.
“They should put forth every effort to fix that. I think we should get some sort of feedback on them, because you do the evaluations and then you never hear about them again.”
Senior Lisa Robinson said she thinks it’s good for professors to get feedback from their students.
“If I think there’s anything they can work on, I say it in a polite way. I think it’s important to be honest, but not brutally honest,” Robinson said.
“If you really want to make a difference in the way a professor teaches, you need to critique them in a way that will really make a difference.”
Robinson said some of her peers judge their professors on how much they like them as a person rather than how well they teach, or how much they learned in class.
Thibodeaux said if students want to make a complaint and they don’t want to use the evaluation as a means of voicing their opinion, giving feedback to the department chair personally would be more effective.