Faculty pushes for evaluation updates

The Northern Kentucky University Teaching Effectiveness and Enhancement Committee (TEEC) has restructured the end-of-semester course evaluations in hopes that the new form will allow for more meaningful and detailed feedback from students.

The new online evaluations will feature up to five questions that were created by instructors specifically for their respective classes so that students will be able to comment and elaborate on specific aspects of a class.

TEEC president Kenneth Rhee said that course evaluations help promote a synergy at NKU, one where students can improve their educational environment by improving their professors through constructive feedback, and that course evaluations are essential to this cycle.

“TEEC was created to focus on improving teaching effectiveness by way of course evaluations,” Rhee said. “And the way that works is that we need feedback from students to help improve our teaching, and then thanks to that, students will begin to see that improvement and how they were essential to that process.”

According to TEEC member and NKU communication professor Jacqueline McNally, the evaluations have had the same questions for about 30 years. “A lot of them didn’t exactly mesh well with the online courses and others were just not providing any worthwhile responses,” she said.

In the updated evaluation, the committee changed the placement of some questions and “put the more introspective ones first, so that students can reflect on the personal effort they put into the class before they begin to evaluate the instructor,” according to McNally.

Questions like “How much time did you spend studying outside of class?” or “How many times did you ask your instructor for assistance?” appear first on the new evaluations. McNally suggested that by promoting this sense of reflection, students will be either more honest or more accurate with their instructor’s evaluation.

The one-to-five scale, with “one” being one extreme and “five” the other, has been kept intact. McNally said that the scale has been accepted nationwide as being the most “useful” in evaluations.
TEEC member and mathematics and statistics professor Philip McCartney finds that the commentary offered alongside the data is actually more useful in improving instructors and teaching methods.
“To comment and to elaborate on why an instructor succeeded or failed in a particular area is wonderfully useful to us,” McCartney said. “We are able to learn so much more from those comments than we are from just the scores, they really do help us improve.”

TEEC wants to encourage an educational environment where these evaluations are not only properly utilized but are promoted enthusiastically by all members of the university.
“We really do read and apply these suggestions to our classes,” TEEC member and Teacher education professor Kimberly Code said. “We may not be at the point where every single student is filling out and commenting on everything that they experienced in their classes over the semester, but we are moving towards that. Our objective is to promote the idea that this process helps the whole university, and I think that that’s pretty well understood by a lot of students and faculty.”