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TCEs to switch from print to online

Madeline Buckley | Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Student Senate passed Wednesday a resolution to support the implementation of online teacher and course evaluations to replace the paper evaluations that are currently used in classrooms.

The move to online evaluations is an effort of the Offices of Institutional Research and Information Technology and the Advisory Committee to the Provost of Evaluation of Teaching, Academic Affairs chair Ryan Brellenthin said.

The teacher evaluations will be restructured online as Course Information Forms (CIF), and graphical representation of student’s ratings of course content and teaching style will be available in a joint system, Informing Course Selection (ICS), Brellenthin said.

The evaluation forms will be e-mailed to students and the students will have two weeks to submit the forms before study days, he said. After submitting the CIF, they will be free to access the ICS, which will give them information from evaluations to aid them in choosing courses for the next semester.

Brellenthin said there several advantages to the new system, such as a longer time to fill out the CIF and more privacy while doing so.

“Many students don’t take the time to fill out [the current paper evaluations],” he said. “They don’t put in much effort and then they leave class early.”

Many students feel the pressure to rush through the evaluations or are hampered by a lack of privacy, Brellenthin said.

“The data being collected isn’t that great,” he said. “And the online forms will enable students to take more time to carefully fill out the forms.”

The ICS is another benefit to the online system, as it allows students to access the evaluation results, Brellenthin said.

“The ICS will have information on the type of text books used, the workload, whether the class is mostly lectures or discussions and so on,” he said.

The current Teacher Course Evaluations seem to get lost in a black hole, he said. The online system will allow students to actually see the information gathered from the evaluations.

Although the resolution passed, many senators voiced concerns on the switch from the paper form to an online form.

Sorin Senator Michael Sayles questioned whether students would be motivated to fill out the forms outside of class.

“Students may have a really hard time going online and finding the time to evaluate five classes,” he said.

Student body vice president Grant Schmidt said students will not be able to access the ICS information when darting if they did not fill out the CIF.

“There is the incentive about having objective information about classes,” he said.

Several senators also raised the objection that the ICS will motivate students to seek out “easy classes” with fewer papers and lighter reading loads.

“These evaluations are not in the spirit of higher education,” Gender Issues chair Patrick Tighe said. “If you want to know about course, talk to the professor or an advisor. [Education] is not about making decisions about courses based on numbers.”

While the switch to online course evaluations will occur, the committees in charge of the transition will consider the issues raised by senators and continue to consult with student government to improve the system, Academic Affairs chair Brellenthin said.

In other senate news:

– Chief Executive Assistant Karen Koski discussed the possibility of a fall festival taking place the Friday before the Michigan game. Different clubs on campus will sponsor food and games directed toward Alumni and their families to showcase university life, she said.

– Community Relations chair Gus Gari announced the Taste of South Bend will take place on Fieldhouse Mall Wednesday April 30. Local restaurants will give away free food, he said.