The Awards: 1

I found out that I was named to the Department of Psychology's Teaching Honour Roll (with Distinction) for the two summer courses I taught this year. Yay!

The Department gives out these awards (no, they're not cash--not even a certificate!) based on the end-of-term evaluations that students fill out. Specifically, it hinges on the one item, "Overall, this instructor was excellent" which is filled out on a five-point scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. If the median rating is at least 4.0, you're placed on the Honour Roll. If at least 45% of students also indicate "strongly agree," then you get on the Honour Roll with Distinction.

I've won the Honour Roll award 18 times, and with Distinction, um, 71 times. Now, I'm not just tooting my own horn (toot!); I have to say that many of my colleagues in the Department also receive these awards: 5 on the Honour Roll, and 4 others with Distinction for Summer, 2008 term. If those numbers seem small, it's because there aren't a lot of classes offered in the Summer term. (Actually, it looks like every instructor achieved Honour Roll or with Distinction! That's pretty good.)

If you think filling out those forms is pointless, let me tell you it's not. Things like promotions, raises, and even contract renewals are based partly on student evaluations of instructors. Unfortunately, a lot hinges on responses to that "instructor was excellent" question. What if the instructor was merely very good? Would you put "strongly disagree"?

The Teaching & Learning Committee of the staff association is looking at other ways that instruction can be assessed, beyond focusing on the "excellent" question. Turns out, it's a really difficult thing, and it's been studied for quite some time. In the meantime, I still read the comments that students make, and I take those very seriously. I feel the need for constant improvement. Speaking of which...

Why aren't you studying?


Bryan said...

can agree. From a previous course I was in many students, including myself put comments regarding the disappointment we had in one instructor. We were supposed to have the instructor again for the second part of the course again in the next semester but magically the instructor was replaced! To all the first years out there it does make a difference and dont feel intimidated to express your feelings towards professors. By use of either the evaluations or by speaking with the professor or course coordinator, most (if not all) profesors will welcome feedback as long as it is presented in a respectful and polite manner.

Anonymous said...

Random question.... have you ever looked yourself up on Do profs ever look at that/know of that? Haha I'm just curious....

Karsten Loepelmann said...

@anonymous: Do instructors know about Oh yes. Yes, they do.

Say, do students know about RateYourStudents?

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