MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF
APRIL 14, 2014


VII. NEW BUSINESS.

B. Required and Proposed Revisions to the Basic Course Evaluation (D 11504-11507).

On behalf of the Educational Policy Committee (EPC), Professor Mary Rose (committee chair, sociology) gave a brief overview of the required and proposed revisions to the Basic Course Instructor Survey form outlining the changes made as a result of feedback from the Faculty Council on March 17, 2014.1 In section one of the form, five items mandated by UT System were added, two existing items were preserved, and two new items were added:
    1. Instructor clearly defined and explained the course objectives and expectations.
    2. The instructor was prepared for each instructional activity.
    3. The instructor communicated information effectively.
    4. The instructor encouraged me to take an active role in my own learning;.
    5. The instructor was available to students either electronically or in person.
    6. The instructor made me feel free to ask questions, disagree, and express my ideas.
    7. The course was well organized.
    8. The course materials (e.g., text and supplemental materials) were helpful to me.
    9. Overall, I learned a great deal in this course.
In response to feedback from faculty in the College of Fine Arts, Professor Rose said the following instruction was added: “‘Neutral’ meansĀ  ‘no strong opinion one way or another,’ not ‘Not applicable/cannot rate.’” She asked the Faculty Council to give the Center for Teaching and Learning room to edit the instruction given the limited amount of space they had to work with on the form. With regard to the second section of the form, Professor Rose mentioned a small editorial change in the workload item, the middle category, which read “AboutĀ  right.” Professor Rose opened the floor to questions.

Professor Gordon Novak (computer science) expressed his discomfort with the ordering of response from good to bad saying he felt it ought to be reversed. Professor Rose responded saying that because we read left to right, it seemed awkward to her to reorder the letters to “FDCBA” from “ABCDF,” and she expressed concern that it would introduce measurement error. However, she indicated that if the members felt strongly, she would entertain a friendly amendment. Professor Beckner said, “Some of the people in my section agree with the chair.” Patricia Roberts-Miller (rhetoric and writing) said in her past experience as director of a freshmen composition program, she had “read literally hundreds and maybe even one thousand or more evaluations each year” similar to this one and had never seen errors. Instead, one would see whether the overall GPA correlated to the probable grade, and added that even though the order may “bother us aesthetically,” it would not introduce error. Professor Rose commented that it might actually be good to have a few items out of order to test for response bias. Professor Wayne Rebhorn (English) also voiced that he did not have an issue with the “ABCD” order.

Professor Marvin Shepherd asked if the current system addressed team-taught courses, and if not, had the committee ever considered developing such an evaluation? Professor Rose replied that team-taught courses were currently evaluated as a whole and not by individual instructors. She opined that it would be wonderful if someone were to create a form to be used in team-taught courses that would have slightly different instructions and have additional items. She didn’t think that it would need to go through the Educational Policy Committee as long as the mandated items were included.

Professor Rebhorn said that he was bothered by #3 in the second section saying, “it’s sort of like porridge is too hot, porridge is too cold, the porridge is just right.” He was concerned the preferred measurement, the middle category, would cause confusion. Professor Rose reasoned that the structure had been used for decades and that the committee had only slightly modified the wording of the middle category. She felt that a conscientious student would read the question and not just mark down the form.

Chair Hart called the question and the proposal passed by unanimous vote.


1Also reference PowerPoint slides in Appendix A.

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