The Academic Affairs committee of the Student Government Association is attempting to completely reconstruct the surveys used to evaluate teachers at the end of the semester.
The reconstruction will change two aspects of the Student Opinion Survey forms, making the forms more specific and more in-depth, while also changing the forms to an online format. SOS forms are used to determine tenure and to give feedback to the university about specific courses and instructors.
Andrea Thompson, chairwoman of the Academic Affairs committee, said the committee decided to reconstruct SOS forms in response to complaints by faculty on the forms’ effectiveness. Thompson said the SOS forms, as they stand now, do not give the university enough information about instructors or the classes they teach.
“When it comes to deciding what courses in the university need to be reformatted, this feedback is crucial,” Thompson said. “The Academic Senate is continually changing and deleting courses, and they don’t have a lot of information in regards to how effective the classes are. The university needs that information, and they don’t have enough of it.”
Academic Affairs is working on an initial draft of the SOS forms, which they plan to show to faculty, administrators and students once complete. They will begin looking to gain feedback and develop ways to implement the change once that occurs.
Thompson said Academic Affairs also plans to change SOS forms so they provide more specific information. For example, instead of asking how organized your professor is, as is done in the current SOS forms, the new SOS forms will provide specific examples of organization, and students will be able to concretely give feedback on what their professor is and isn’t doing.
“Teacher evaluations forms, as they stand now, are not objective at all,” Thompson said. “The questions need to be more concrete. If a student doesn’t like a professor, or someone who they regard with respect, it is too easy for the student to give inaccurate information.”
While the planned SOS forms will be lengthier than the current SOS forms, by moving the forms to an online platform and designing all but two optional questions to be multiple choice, Thompson said it would take about the same amount of time to complete the surveys.
Thompson said she recognizes online surveys often have a low response rate, but she hopes to negate the problem by tying SOS forms directly to the students receiving their transcript.
“This is what we’re pushing for, in order to get your scores for a course, you will have to take the survey,” Thompson said. “… I don’t understand why you wouldn’t; this is your education, this is your university, and it will only take five minutes of your time.”
Thompson said she is confident in the work Academic Affairs has put into this, but she does not plan for the draft she has now to be the final product.
“This is only in the beginning stages,” Thompson said. “We’re sending our draft into the world and finding out what things we need to change. I don’t expect this draft to stay the same.”