FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 7, 2008EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina Logue, 615-898-5081
FACULTY EVALUATION INSTRUMENT ENTERS SECOND SEMESTER MTSU
Students Have Greater Range of Expression in Giving Professors Feedback
(MURFREESBORO) – At the end of each semester’s classes, MTSU students rate their professors’ performances by filling out questionnaires. In the university’s continuing efforts to provide the highest quality service to the students, the traditional questions were replaced in fall 2008 with a teaching evaluation instrument created at the University of California-Berkeley, an instrument that allows students to provide more meaningful feedback that will help educators improve their teaching. Results for fall 2008 should be available to all faculty for internal use by the end of January, says Barbara Draude, Assistant Vice President for Academic and Instructional Technologies and Co-Director of the Learning, Teaching and Innovative Technologies Center (LT&ITC). Students will assess their instructors for spring 2009 at the end of that semester. Classes are slated to begin Thursday, Jan. 15.
Anecdotally, students and professors have agreed for years that the previous evaluation instrument did not give students the opportunity to provide more nuanced perspectives on their classroom experiences. “It was a neutral instrument that didn’t upset anyone, but it didn’t do much good,” says Dr. Vic Montemayor, physics professor and former chair of the Pedagogy Task Force. “It was contentless. There was nothing there to help instructors improve their teaching.” After some two years of debate through the work of that task force, response to the Berkeley instrument was overwhelming. One hundred percent of faculty volunteers, 100 percent of deans and chairs and 76 percent of students found the Berkeley instrument to be superior in a pilot study conducted prior to fall 2008. As it turned out, the Berkeley instrument already was in use by the MTSU faculty mentoring program, but Montemayor says that had no impact on the final decision. However, the mentoring program administrators say they are delighted with the questionnaire. The former student evaluation sheet would gauge students’ reactions to statements such as “course requirements are clear,” “the class begins at scheduled times,” and “instructor presents material clearly” with ratings of “almost always,” “usually,” “rarely,” “never,” or “not applicable.”