Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Angry Grumblings: Teacher Evaluations

Sorry that I haven't been posting, but like most people I tend to complain louder than praise and thank, and I haven't had too much to complain about. I'm starting to get used to the overwhelming, never ending amount of work, things in the lab are running relatively smoothly, and I found a good drug cocktail that keeps me content.

But I could not pass up on this opportunity...today I received an email from my schools CENTER FOR EDUCATION EXCELLENCE stating that I should think of rewards that I can give my students for participating in our schools teacher rating survey. It goes on to say that if I feel uncomfortable with academically rewarding individual students that I can perhaps give a group reward for participation in the survey. Or if that still feels wrong that I can bring them candy.

To give a little backstory, my school does its surveys online and students can fill them out during a several week period that ends after finals and of course most students don't bother filling them out unless they don't do well on their finals, so this email went out telling us ways how to increase the student response and to get them to fill the surveys out earlier.

Still, I don't know where to even begin. I guess I should praise them for not explicitly using the work bribe. It also helps put in perspective the ridiculously high teacher ratings that almost everyone at our school gets. I really, really want to complain about this to someone important. Am I wrong to feel this way? Is this what our tenure-track battle has come to?! Should I take action or should I bite my tongue until I get tenure (which will be harder if I don't get great reviews)?

1 comment:

  1. Oddly enough, I just had a huge discussion (read: argument) with our admins over online surveys. Generally, only the students that are angry take the time to complete the survey. This naturally skews the results. I was assured the large percentage (45%) of students give constructive answers on the surveys.

    I've since asked around about how to get a more representative population (say 80% or more). Basically, my department supports giving out paper surveys that are collected by staff with grades/comments compiled anonymously. Then, the chair and I will see them, which will give additional ammunition (if you will) for when my tenure review comes up. This gives me a backup in case my "official reviews" skew badly but the "unofficial paper reviews" have a more even (or positive) distribution.

    I would investigate with your department or offices on campus to see if this can be supported. If there's a potential for positive ammunition for your chair to use to support your tenure case, it's worth the effort.