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547


DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY


REPORT FROM THE EDUCATIONAL POLICY COMMITTEE CONCERNING "THE REPORT OF THE FACULTY COUNCIL AD HOC COMMITTEE ON COURSE INSTRUCTOR SURVEYS: EVALUATING TEACHING EFFECTIVENESS AND EXCELLENCE" (D 82-101)



Wallace T. Fowler (aerospace engineering), on behalf of the Educational Policy Committee, has filed the recommendations set forth below concerning "The Report from the Faculty Council ad hoc Committee on Course Instructor Surveys: Evaluating Teaching Effectiveness and Excellence" (D 82-101).

The secretary has classified these recommendations as general legislation. Notice is hereby given that these recommendations will be presented to the Faculty Council for action at its meeting on May 8, 2000.



<signed>

John R. Durbin, Secretary
The Faculty Council




This legislation was posted on the Faculty Council web site (http://www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/) on April 28, 2000. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500. This document was revised after the date of circulation as indicated in the footnotes.

548


REPORT FROM THE EDUCATIONAL POLICY COMMITTEE CONCERNING "THE REPORT OF THE FACULTY COUNCIL AD HOC COMMITTEE ON COURSE INSTRUCTOR SURVEYS: EVALUATING TEACHING EFFECTIVENESS AND EXCELLENCE" (D 82-101)



Background

The topics addressed in the report of the ad hoc Committee on Course Instructor Surveys have been discussed for many years. Specific reference is made to discussions on two occasions.


1.
In 1985-1986, the Kelley-Stice report recommended the following concerning the course instructor survey then in use:

1) Replace current sets of scaled items with four free-response, open-ended items, plus smaller sets of scaled items directed at different types of courses.
2) Develop four or five scaled items for administrative purposes and use across all classes and instructors, with participation requirements being determined by the colleges or departments.
3) Separate the Student Information System from the Instructor and Administrator Information Systems to better meet the needs of the students.

The issue was then addressed in the April 14, 1986, meeting of the University Council.

Excerpt from the minutes of the University Council meeting of April 14, 198:

IV. Questions to the President

C.
Question Concerning the Status of Course-Instructor Survey Legislation.

Reuben R. McDaniel, Jr. (management) had requested a report on the status of the University Council recommendations concerning the Course-Instructor Surveys – legislation growing out of the "Kelley-Stice" and Faculty Senate recommendations. President Cunningham reviewed the provisions of the recommendations and the outcome of the pilot projects that had been conducted. He further reported, "There has been a lot of discussion about this with the deans. There has been a lot of discussion with individual faculty members. I do want to go on record as saying, as I have many times, that I strongly believe in evaluation of faculty members in response to their teaching. It is an important part of the promotion process. It should be, and in many cases is, an important part of the salary adjustment process.

"I am always concerned about how we use any individual instrument. I am always concerned about the interpretation of the percentages. I find the raw numbers much more useful to me than the percentages alone. And while I think these kinds of instruments can be misused very easily, I think they also provide a great deal of information to a lot of people.

"After saying all of that, I have decided to turn down the Kelley-Stice report for a variety of reasons, one of which is the financial consideration. A second one is that I really do believe the system that is being used in the colleges right now works probably quite well. It [might] not work [much] better if it was modified significantly. I have asked the deans this morning to submit to Dr. Fonken by May 15 a status report on exactly how they do monitor and evaluate teaching within their own colleges, and I will look forward to seeing a summary of that report. So in that sense I will turn this down.

" If the Faculty Senate chooses to bring it back up, I will be more than happy to see what they do, and be happy to review it again. But time has passed us by a little bit on this, and in that sense I am going to turn [these] specific [recommendations] down. In no way does that ... indicate that I do not think they are important. In no way does it indicate that I do not feel faculty members should use [these instruments]. I always used them when I was teaching. In the college that I came from we had a mandated rule that you use them. But I think that is best dealt with at the college level, not at the University level."

 

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2.
The following legislation was approved by the University Council on November 19, 1990 (D&P 13389):

"Teaching evaluations by students shall be required by all faculty at The University of Texas at Austin effective Fall 1991."

The legislation was approved by the president on June 26, 1991, with a note about the implementation in the spring of 1992, rather than fall 1991, because of the late approval date.

 
Thus, we note that there was consideration of student evaluations in 1986, followed by the enactment of legislation mandating student evaluations in 1991. The requirement became effective in spring 1992.

Recommendations

The report of the ad hoc Committee on Course Instructor Surveys (D 82-101) responded to seven charges. After study of the report, the Educational Policy Committee (EPC) recommends the following:

Recommendation 1: It is recommended that all classes be surveyed every semester, including summer, using either the Basic CIS Form or the Expanded CIS Form.1

Rationale: Teaching evaluations by students are required by all faculty at UT Austin and have been required since spring 1992. The only open issues are the form and frequency of these evaluations. This recommendation specifies the form and frequency of the required student evaluations.

For the results of student evaluations to be most useful, it is desirable that they have some items in common. Nine common items have been identified from earlier forms and have been used to create a Basic CIS Form.1

Recommendation 2: In addition to the Basic CIS Form, the Expanded CIS Form, and supplemental CIS forms designed for specific types of teaching methods, colleges and individual faculty are strongly encouraged to develop and use additional methods of evaluation.1

Rationale: The primary vehicles for collecting information about teaching are student surveys, alumni surveys, major retrospective surveys, peer review of materials, self-report in the form of portfolios, and mid-semester course adjustment data. To improve and maintain a high quality teaching program, colleges and individual faculty should seek feedback on teaching from many sources.

Recommendation 3: It is recommended that materials be prepared to assist students in understanding the importance of (1) giving helpful feedback and (2) understanding how to read the results of the surveys.

Rationale: The statistical data from the course instructor surveys is public information and will be released to the students. It is critical that the students understand the information provided to them.

Recommendation 4: In implementing the Basic CIS Form or the Expanded CIS Form, the privacy of both students and faculty must be respected and preserved.2
Rationale: Written comments on student evaluations are not governed by the Open Records Act that governs access to and release of answers to survey items. The written comments are offered and received as part of a private communication between student and faculty.


1 Corrections made at the request of the Educational Policy Committee on May 8, 2000.
2 Recommendation 4 was amended by the Faculty Council on May 8, 2000.



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Comment

The EPC examined the ad hoc committee recommendation that information be made available to faculty concerning when and how to ask for feedback. Much information of this type is already available from the Center for Teaching Effectiveness. The EPC chooses not to act on this recommendation because it appears to be a work in progress.