Complete faculty evals or wait longer for grades

Starting this semester, Northern Kentucky University is not giving students much of an option about filling out their professor’s evaluations.

A new policy, created by the Faculty Senate, delays students who do not complete their evaluations from viewing their grades.

“The only significant change is that students have to choose to do the evaluations or to opt out of doing them,” said Vice Provost J. Patrick Moynahan. “If they don’t choose to do it then their grades won’t be available to them until two weeks after finals.”

This new professor evaluation policy is an attempt to increase the percentage of students who participate in the evaluations. NKU uses them for various reasons.

“These evaluations are very important to the university,” Moynahan said. “From the standpoint of tenure-track faculty, new faculty who come into potentially full-time positions, have a six-year period where they are evaluated every year and they are expected show improvement over that six-year period in teaching, in scholarship and in service.”

Moynahan said newer faculty members are concerned that a small batch of evaluations reflects negatively on them.

The academic department chairs also use the student evaluations to determine which faculty members will receive raises and how much their raises will be, in years when faculty get a raise.

Professors use the comments to update what they teach in their courses. The ideas and opinions from students provided in the comments can change how and what the professors are teaching in their courses.

Moynahan said his own experiences teaching showed him that students would tell him what did and did not work, or what they wanted to see more.

“You can’t always tell from the daily classroom give and takes. It’s a way we can improve the courses,” Moynahan said.

Because there is a consequence for students who do not fill out the evaluations, the university has a plan to keep reminding students until they have completed their evaluations.

Moynahan said students will receive e-mails every three days over the last few weeks of classes reminding them to complete their evaluations. They will continue to receive the e-mails until hey have either completed all evaluations or opted out of them.

The new method of evaluating professors has a some advantages over the previous years. Faculty members get feedback more rapidly and in time to make adjustments to the courses for the next semester.

Also, students are guaranteed extra anonymity. The university has provided extra security for the evaluations and professors will not be able to see the feedback until after the final grades have been posted.

Although there is expected to be some complaints from students who forget to fill out the evaluations and have to wait two extra weeks to find out their grades, many students are not expecting this to cause many problems.

“I think that some students will respond negatively at first because it is just something more that they have to do,” said freshman Diamond Brumfield. “But I think they will come around to it. I think that it’s a good thing.”

Story by Matthew Brewer