May 24, 2017

Move to Online Evaluations?

As you probably know, the deans have expressed an interest in replacing the course evaluations that students currently complete with an online tool. Presentations were made to the faculty councils and the Academic Assembly earlier this term, and the AAUP was also asked whether it would support this change. At the first meeting of the AAUP-Management Collaboration Committee this issue was brought up, and we agreed to bring the question to the faculty.

In brief, the advantages of this change, according to the administration, include:
> Large savings in time and resources needed to administer the evaluations,
> Much cheaper processing costs
> More classes could be evaluated
> The evaluations could be completed later in the semester and the results made available sooner following the term.

Some of the concerns we have heard raised include:
> Online evaluations generally receive significantly lower response rates
> The students may not take the evaluations as seriously (think RateMyProfessor)
> Concerns about the security of collected data

Should such a change be piloted, the deans have stated that they would explicitly recognize that a new baseline for interpreting the feedback would be needed, as the data may not be directly comparable to data collected in the current format. The language in the P&P could also be strengthened in its indication that personnel decisions are not to be made on the sole basis of student evaluations.