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New drop-boxes available for TCE forms

Matt Bramanti | Thursday, November 20, 2003

TCEs just got a little easier. The teacher-course evaluations, which are administered near the end of every semester, can now be dropped off at a number of new drop-box locations around campus. Boxes will be placed on the first floors of O’Shaughnessy Hall, the Mendoza College of Business and Cushing Hall of Engineering, in addition to their current locations in DeBartolo and Flanner Halls.

Associate provost John Affleck-Graves said he hopes the new convenience will improve the number of TCEs his office receives on time.

“We’re trying to encourage students to participate,” he said. “TCEs are really important to us.”

The evaluation forms allow students to rate the quality of several areas of an instructor’s teaching, including preparedness, enthusiasm and grading. Affleck-Graves said faculty members and administrators use the results for several purposes.

“Most importantly, it allows the instructor to learn how people have perceived his or her teaching,” he said.

In addition, academic departments, colleges and the University as a whole use the evaluations to gauge students’ satisfaction with their instruction, and to make any necessary improvements.

“It’s important to us that a large majority of students are satisfied or highly satisfied,” Affleck-Graves said. “It’s the best way to measure, track and monitor how well we’re doing in the institution.”

Evaluations are also used in promotion and reappointments of faculty members. When an instructor comes up for review, the department head writes a report on the instructor’s performance, and “a large part of that report is based on the TCEs,” Affleck-Graves said.

In the past, instructors have received their completed evaluations in mid-January. This year, Affleck-Graves hopes to accelerate the process, allowing instructors to see the results the day after final grades are released.

“We’re trying to encourage students to participate,” Affleck-Graves said.

He also addressed the issue of releasing TCE results, allowing students to take them into account when selecting classes.

This week, the Academic Council appointed a special committee to look into the matter.

“They’ve been tasked with contacting student government and the graduate student union to get accurate student representation,” Affleck-Graves said. He added that the committee’s work will continue into next semester.

Since TCE results are not published, many students turn to NDToday.com’s teacher evaluations, which allow users to submit and view comments regarding their professors.

“I’ve found them to be entertaining, but misleading,” said senior Monica Brown, who also submits her comments.

Affleck-Graves echoed that sentiment, downplaying the importance of the online service, however. “The problem with those approaches is that they’re ad hoc. They’re not systematic,” he said.