Faculty and staff discuss evaluation methods

The Academic Affairs Subcommittee of the Faculty Senate held a town hall meeting to discuss the use of IDEA evaluation forms and FES 1 and 2 of the faculty evaluation process.

This meeting was held in the Lowman Student Center Theatre from 3-4 p.m. on Wednesday.

Subcommittee Chair Sheryl Murphy-Manley, who holds a doctorate in music, gave a presentation of the subcommittee’s proposed University revision to the FES 1 and 2 followed by an open forum discussion with faculty members.

The faculty member FES Form 6 is used to determine final faculty evaluations and is separated into five different fields, according to Murphy-Manley The teaching part of the evaluation is determined by the department chair rating, the FES 1, and student ratings, FES 2.

The Form 6 evaluations are used to rank the overall average of faculty members and in determining adjustments to faculty salary. The subcommittee has proposed three major changes to the current system.

They recommend that the FES 2 be determined by adjusted scores of the IDEA evaluations. IDEA scores are the student evaluations given at the end of each semester regarding their class experience and are thereafter used by the university to assess faculty merit. Determining adjusted scores currently means taking into account five questions asked in the survey.

Two questions have been identified as having a significant impact on a student’s evaluation: item 39 “I really wanted to take this course regardless of who taught it,” and item 13 “As a rule, I put forth more effort than other students on academic work.” This essentially means that if a student had high motivation to take a class and evaluated the professor highly, the adjusted score will go down from the IDEA score as the student was already more susceptible to enjoy the class; and likewise if a student had no motivation to take the class and evaluated the professor lowly the adjusted score will increase of the raw score, according to the presentation

The second proposed recommendation would be to switch from the IDEA long form to the short form and to add discipline-specific questions on the new form. In the past, the university has never chosen to use the short form, according to Murphy-Manley

This would mean students would only have 18 questions to ask instead of 47, leaving more space for student comments and only three questions will adjust the raw scores.

The subcommittee also recommends changing the wording of the FES Form 6. Under the teaching portion of the evaluation FES 1 and 2 would be clarified. They recommend changing the Chair Rating to Chair Rating of Teaching including Faculty Effectiveness and Student Ratings would be revised as IDEA Summary Adjusted Scores.

The subcommittee said reason for this proposed change is so that department chair ratings of faculty will not be influenced by the student IDEA evaluation scores.

The Faculty Senate and the Provost’s office hosted IDEA Center representatives, a video presentation of the Q&A can be found by faculty on Blackboard, and they stated that IDEA scores should not determine more than 50% of overall teaching evaluations for faculty.

Following the presentation, subcommittee members held an open discussion with 30 to 40 faculty members in attendance. Several faculty members expressed concern that the IDEA system is used in determining their merit system. Others expressed confusion over the fact that their scores are lowered by the adjustments for 50% of the faculty, while the other 50% experience an increase.

Then faculty was also bothered by the fact that the evaluation that students make when determining if they work harder than other students is subjective and therefore not valid or reliable criteria to be used in the adjustment of student evaluation scores.

“I thought the meeting provided a really lively discussion and brought to light a number of crucial issues regarding teacher evaluations on campus,” Faculty member Dr. Richard Watts from the Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling said.

Subcommittee members Paul Loeffler, Ph.D., James Crosby, Ph.D., Rick White, Ph.D., and Kevin Clifton, Ph.D. also contributed to the presentation, along with William Jasper and Doug Ulrich who were not in attendance.

Faculty members were also given a survey to help contribute their opinions to the proposed changes and to offer any of their own. There will be a second Faculty Senate presentation in the LSC Theater Tuesday from 3-4:30 p.m. for any faculty who were unable to attend.


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