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Students fill out CIFs at higher rate

Sam Stryker | Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Students have been filling out their Course Instructor Feedback (CIF) forms at a higher rate this year, according to University vice president and associate provost professor Dennis Jacobs.

“They are well above where they were last year,” he said. “It’s rolling in as we speak.”

As of Tuesday evening, 58 percent of students had filled out their CIF forms. That compares to roughly 40 percent at this period last year, Jacobs said. In total, only 58 percent of CIF forms were filled out last semester.

Jacobs said students the system reminds students three days by e-mail until they complete their forms. The deadline is midnight Sunday.

Jacobs said the CIF system is important for evaluating nearly 1,000 faculty members in a variety of ways.

“The CIF is quite critical among many factors that contributes to an evaluation of a faculty members teaching,” he said.

Jacobs said these evaluations are key for determining the tenure trajectory of University faculty.

He also said the CIF evaluations are important for collecting feedback on a course, developing course improvements and evaluating the University as a whole.

“We’re examining over 2,000 courses each semester using the CIF,” he said.

Jacobs said students have two key incentives for completing their CIF forms. If students do so, they can see their first semester grades on Dec. 22 instead of Dec. 28, and they can access teacher reviews generated by the CIF system when they register for classes in the spring.

University faculty members said they were pleased with student turnout so far.

“Seventy-three percent of all my students have filled out the CIFs,” Spanish professor Johara Sonza said. “I am pleased to see that this percentage of students have already filled out the evaluations, and hope the percentage goes up in the coming days.”

Philosophy professor Paul Weithman said it is important for teachers that a large percentage of their students fill out the CIF forms to provide accurate feedback.

“I would rather have a higher turnout rather than less. Otherwise, then, people have a disproportionate influence,” he said.

Sonza said the faculty appreciates the effort the students put into CIF forms that their comments are taken seriously.

“It is extremely important that students take advantage of the opportunity to provide their feedback on a particular instructor or course,” she said. “I greatly appreciate my students’ insight, and appreciate their thoughtful suggestions. The CIFs enable us, as instructors, to make adjustments in order to improve our courses and teaching for Notre Dame students.”

Weithman agreed that student feedback is vital for enabling professors to improve their courses.

“I really want to know how the class has gone,” he said. “Even though I have taught for a while, students change, and year in and year out I think that it is important to get feedback on a class.”