Methods of Faculty Evaluation by Students

Policy & Procedures Manual
Revised: 12/05

Subject: Methods of Faculty Evaluation by Students

As indicated in the procedures for the granting of promotions and/or tenure, faculty evaluations on a broad base and by several persons are required. The instruments of evaluation should be professionally designed, ethically administered, and applied on a broad base as close to the teaching/learning process as possible. Evaluations should be sought from students on a continuing basis for purpose on individual faculty improvement. For purpose of awarding promotions and/or tenure, evaluations should be secured from students, the division peer committee, the appropriate division chair, the Professional Relations Committees, and the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Student evaluations of teaching can be of much help in at least two respects. These differences in emphasis must be kept in mind for both students and faculty in order to gain the benefits of each.
The first purpose is to assist the individual faculty member in improving his or her teaching. (Evaluation used for this purpose is commonly called formative evaluation because it is used as an aid informing or reforming the practice of an individual – in this case the teaching style of a given faculty member.) This kind of evaluation has little effect unless it is conscientiously examined by the particular faculty member to whom it is addressed. Whether or not anyone other than the faculty sees these formative evaluations may be of little lasting consequence. What is important is that they be thoughtfully considered by that faculty member. Indeed, the critical examination of these formative evaluations by a number of other faculty and administrators may cause the faculty member to view the evaluations defensively rather than constructively, thus defeating the central purpose: bringing about warranted change in his or her teaching style. Therefore the formative student evaluations should be viewed only by the directly concerned faculty member unless he or she wishes to share those data with one or more persons of his or her choosing.
A second purpose of student evaluations of teaching is, as mandated by the Board of Trustees, to aid in faculty and administrator decisions concerning promotion, tenure, etc. (Evaluation used for this purpose is commonly called summative evaluation because it is used as an aid in summary judgments.) The specific teaching competencies (or lack of them) have relatively little value here. What is important is the general teaching ability of the particular faculty member being assessed. Therefore, only one a very few summative evaluative questions need be viewed and analyzed by those parties involved.
In the matter of formative evaluation by students and their use by the individual faculty member concerned, the following policy and procedure should be followed:

  • only the faculty member being evaluated be allowed to see and analyze the formative evaluations unless that faculty member, on his or her own volition, determines to share them with one or more other persons;
  • formative evaluations by systematically solicited at least once a semester from each student to whom that instructor has teaching responsibility;
  • the nature of the formative evaluations (questionnaire, group interviews by the instructor and/or student, narrative essay, etc.) be the prerogative of the instructor concerned;
  • the time of solicitation of formative evaluations be close to the mid-point of each semester and such other times such as the instructor chooses (only one formative evaluation close to the mid-point is required, but some instructors may wish to solicit evaluations at other times during the semester);
  • adequate time be allowed for unhurried, thoughtful evaluation;
  • the formative evaluations by the students be the property of the instructor concerned for use and disposal as he or she sees fit;
  • instructors be encouraged to seek assistance in the analysis of the evaluation and in the ways in which the instructor may improve his or her teaching in light of student evaluations. Such assistance may come, at the instigation of the concerned faculty member only, from the department chairperson, one or more other faculty, one or more other students, or any other person.

In the matter of summative evaluations by the students and their use by faculty peers and administrators, the following procedure should be followed:
review of these evaluations by the faculty member concerned and the division chairperson should be conducted each semester;
as appropriate to University procedures, these evaluations may be utilized by the Peer Review Committee, Professional Relations Committee, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the President;
these evaluations will be kept on file by the Vice President for Academic Affairs and be open for inspection by the above named persons in their official capacities;
summative evaluations must be systematically solicited at the end of each semester from each student to whom that instructor has teaching responsibility;
the following physical program for the evaluation process must be strictly followed.
Each instructor should provide part of a class period during the last three weeks of each semester in each class when the evaluations are to take place.
The class instructor should bring the evaluation forms to class in an envelope, carefully explain the importance of he evaluations and the procedures used to conduct the evaluation, and then select a member of the class who is present an evaluation form to fill out.
The instructor should leave the room while students are writing their evaluations.
When the students have completed the evaluation process, the student monitor should place all forms in the envelope, seal it, and take it to the Registrar’s immediately after that class period.
The envelopes will be kept in the Registrar’s Office until the faculty member has turned in final grades. The evaluations will then be turned over to the Academic Affairs Office, whereupon the faculty member may sign for the evaluations, peruse them, and within forty-eight hours return them to the Administrative Assistant II in the Academic Affairs Office for retention in the files. It is both the spirit and the intent of these procedures to assure students that their instructor will not read these evaluations until after grades have been turned in, that students are assured of anonymity, and that their evaluations of a course will not affect their grades. This is such an important factor that it must be stressed bluntly, and violation of these procedures wiill be investigated by the Faculty Professional Relations Committee in cooperation with the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Student Senate.
Thereafter, evaluations must be confidentially handled and used only for professional improvement, or as partial documentaries for promotion or tenure decisions. This procedure may assure that systematic and controlled student evaluations secured from a broad base of student participation will replace casual, informal evaluations which are less fair and less complete.
The summative evaluation forms will be prepared by division’s, and administered through the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and are to be in keeping with the requirements of current UMS-AFUM Agreement.
University of Maine at Machias faculty continuously seeks to improve teaching and student learning. Student feedback is an essential element of this process. A faculty’s peers weight student evaluations heavily during the peer review process, along with independent class observations. To that end, student evaluations should be administered in a careful, thoughtful, and consistent manner.
To the faculty:

  • Administer agreed upon course evaluations to each class during the last 2 weeks of the semester.
  • Avoid administering the evaluations within a couple of days, either before or after, a test in the course.
  • Allow time during class for students to complete the evaluation. This reinforces to them the value that you place on their participation.
  • Do not provide food or other “mood enhancements” as part of the evaluation process.
  • Select one student from the class to distribute, collect, and return the completed evaluations to the Academic Affairs Office at the end of class.
  • Be sure to leave the room and its immediate vicinity while students are completing the evaluations.

Explain to student the use of their responses:

  • Statistics from any of the individual questions may be reported as part of the faculty’s evaluation process and considered when making personnel decisions.
  • All signed comments will be come part of the faculty member’s personnel file, and will be included in the documentation for the faculty member’s next evaluation.
  • Unsigned comments will be seen by the faculty member, but will not become part of the personnel file or evaluation.

Explain to the students the importance of the evaluation process:

  • Student evaluations are used to make critical decisions about such matters as textbooks, course content, and teaching techniques.
  • Student evaluations, as part of the faculty review process, are weighted heavily in determining tenure, promotion, and merit pay raises.
  • Faculty members will not have access to tallied or un-tallied student evaluations until after grades have been submitted, and often not until the middle of the following semester.