Teacher evaluations receive new processing for quicker feedback

No. 2 pencils will no longer be necessary for the new Student Perception of Teaching evaluations that will be given this semester, a university official said.

Catherine Wehlburg, assistant provost for institutional effectiveness, said the change will help faculty receive results and comments faster than before, making students’ feedback more important than ever.

Students receive SPOT evaluations at the end of each semester in every class. Wehlburg said the evaluations are designed to give professors student feedback and give university departments a way to measure how well they are teaching.

Wehlburg said she wanted students to know that faculty use the results of the evaluations to help with their teaching. She said the most important reason for making changes to the evaluation was for faculty to use it to enhance their courses/

“Now that faculty are going to get results back faster, they can use them much more immediately,” Wehlburg said.

She said the main change to the evaluations does not have to do with the questions or ranking system but with formatting and the way the faculty will receive the SPOT forms.

Wehlburg said students will now be able to mark questions in blue or black pen. They also will mark numerical ratings with an “X” instead of filling in bubbles or squares.

She said the director of institutional research who is in charge of SPOT evaluations, Cathy Coghlan, came up with the phrase “”X’ marks the SPOT” to help students remember the new change.

Wehlburg said the format will change, but the questions will be exactly the same.

Senior economics major Alyssa Kneipp said she wished there were changes to the questions that are asked.

“I think if they are changing the format, they should change the questions they ask as well because there are way too many,” she said.

Kneipp said she liked the idea of being able to just mark ratings with an “X” but thought if the university would cut down on the questions, more students would be inclined to write feedback.

“I think it’s great professors will get the feedback before the next semester begins, but I think they would get more written opinions if there were fewer questions,” Kneipp said.

Wehlburg said students will not notice a difference except for how the form looks and how to mark it.

She said the evaluation form will have three sections: the questions with numerical ratings, two broad questions of what students liked and didn’t like and the comment boxes on the back that correspond with each question.

The university will move to an updated system that will allow faculty to access their evaluations faster and look at their evaluations over time, Wehlburg said. All evaluations will now be stored in a server on campus, allowing professors to do comparisons by categories, such as by item or by question.

“The way the SPOT data will be stored will be [done so that] each individual faculty member can access their own and really use that information in a better way,” Wehlburg said.

Another change is that faculty will no longer receive the paper form of the evaluation but will get all the same data and comments. Wehlburg said comment boxes will be given to faculty in a report with a picture of the feedback each student wrote.

“The faculty will get the same information they have always gotten, but they’ll get it faster,” Wehlburg said.

All evaluations are still anonymous and will be reviewed after grades are turned in, she said.