Student Evaluations of Faculty
Students are expected to submit narrative evaluations of their primary faculty members at the end of each quarter of a program (typically, in multi-term, team-taught programs, for that quarter’s seminar leader). Most of us explain the importance of this evaluation by emphasizing that we want to improve our teaching, and these evaluations are an important part of our faculty portfolios. Encouraging students to do this work is important. Some faculty require a student evaluation of them as one of the terms for the award of credit; if you make this requirement, you must make it clear in the program covenant and give reminders to your students.
Students should post their evaluations of faculty on my.evergreen. They have a choice of allowing you access to that evaluation before or after their evaluation is posted. Students deserve a fair evaluation, and some may feel that the best way to ensure this is to delay your access to what they have written. You can check to see if they have posted their evaluation of you even if you cannot access it at the time of the evaluation conference. You can read it as soon as your evaluation of the student is posted. Only you have access to each student’s evaluation of you in the Online Records System. You will make copies for your portfolio when you have a review.
We have face to face meetings with students at the end of the program to have conversations about our students’ learning, to help them revise their self evaluations, and offer guidance about their academic choices. It is important to schedule the conferences at least 10-14 days in advance of evaluation week because students often want to make travel plans. Most faculty schedule at least 30 minutes for these conferences.
It is good practice to request that students give you their self-evaluations at least two days before their conference. These self-evaluations give you lots of information about what students have learned. Some faculty members request a portfolio of all work in the program and require that a self evaluation be placed in it. If you give students the program description before requesting the self evaluations, you will help them see that they should focus on what they learned and not what they did. Here is a workshop (PDF) you can do to help them begin that writing process.
All students must write a self evaluation at the end of a program, but they do not have to make it part of their transcript. It is important to realize that part of the student-centered vision of the college was that students would take advantage of this opportunity. If you encourage them to submit their self-evaluations, it is important to help students revise them for an outside audience of graduate level admissions or employers. You also want a well written self-evaluation from your students for your portfolio as their writing reflects on your teaching.
Most faculty begin the evaluation conference by giving the student the evaluation they have written on paper. Make sure to give students time to read it carefully. Students often want to discuss the credit allocation and wording. You may need to modify what you have written, and it is often possible to make changes that suit both of you. The next step is to have a conversation about the student’s self-evaluation. Treat the writing they have done as important work. Check to see if they have addressed areas where they excelled and areas in which they need further work. Remind them of their intellectual development over the course of the program. Next, if you have access to their evaluation of you, you may want to discuss what they have written. Finally, ask about their future plans, whether it is another academic program or finding a job. We can be effective mentors by asking questions and being good listeners.
Helping Students Write Faculty Evaluations
It can be very helpful to students if you give your students some guidance for writing evaluations of you. Here are some questions you might use:
- Did your faculty help you learn through their presentations, lectures, workshops, and labs? Do you remember a specific time when they were particularly helpful?
- In seminar, did your faculty facilitate the conversation so that you learned more about a text? Do you feel more able to contribute in seminar thanks to the work your faculty did to create a learning community?
- Did your faculty help you learn to think more critically and/or more deeply about a particular topic, question, or issue? If so, can you give an example?
- Were the texts you read good choices given the questions and concepts you addressed? Was there a particular text that stood out for you? Why?
- Did you learn specific concepts or ideas that will remain with you because of your faculty’s approach to teaching them?
- Did you improve your writing as a result of the assignments and feedback from your faculty and/or peers?
- Did your faculty encourage your learning in some specific ways such as meeting with you individually or in a group?