Faculty Senate debates online course evaluations

Faculty Senate discussed the possibility of conducting course evaluations online Thursday at the Faculty Senate meeting. This semester, a pilot study including 200 course sections instructed by tenured professors will be conducted. Students in these courses will be notified by e-mail and asked to complete their evaluations online, said Catherine Wehlburg, executive director of the Office for Assessment and Quality Enhancement.

The online evaluation will ask the same questions regularly included in the hand-administered surveys.

Wehlburg said if implemented, the online evaluation will allow the evaluations to be more specific.

“The faculty members will be able to add questions specific to their course,” Wehlburg said.

Other advantages to the program include the possibility of getting results to professors sooner, more customized information and increased anonymity of students, she said.

Wehlburg said a concern of the assessment office is student response because the evaluations will not be administered in class.

Senators also discussed the possibility of students allowing friends and classmates to fill out their evaluations instead of doing it themselves.

Other senate agenda items included presentations about the student emergency fund, Froglife and employee health care.

Angela Kaufman, minister to the university, spoke about the student emergency fund. She said the fund is supported by donations and helps students in need of quick financial help in emergency situations.

Pat Jolley, director of compensation in human resources, spoke about Froglife, which is an organization that helps faculty and staff blend their responsibilities as employees with their life at home. It includes resources on topics from wellness and fitness to caring for elders.

Tracy Thompson, benefits manager in human resources, and Andy Fort, past chair of the Faculty Senate, discussed health care plans and the importance of faculty and staff remaining educated on these issues.

Provost Nowell Donovan spoke briefly about the addition of the Texas Legation papers to the library, the continued search for a new dean of the AddRan College and the upcoming tenure decisions.