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Last modified: Friday, January 11, 2013

Meetings at IU Bloomington will address switch to online course questionnaires

Jan. 11, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington faculty and students can learn about the campus's move to online student course questionnaires, as well as ask questions and offer feedback, at two town-hall meetings next week.

The meetings will take place in the Georgian Room of the Indiana Memorial Union at noon Wednesday, Jan. 16, and at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17. Panelists will be Provost Lauren Robel; Vice Provosts Tom Gieryn and Sonya Stephens; Bloomington Faculty Council leaders Carolyn Calloway-Thomas and Herb Terry; Bloomington Faculty Council Educational Policies Committee chair William Wheeler and past chair Padraic Kenney; and IU Student Association President Kyle Straub.

Students complete course questionnaires during the final week of classes, providing information on teaching effectiveness and other matters. The Bloomington Faculty Council adopted a policy in April 2012 that calls for online course questionnaires to be administered in all IU Bloomington courses.

Bill Wheeler

William Wheeler, associate professor of mathematics, leads a class.

Print-Quality Photo

The plan for designing and implementing online questionnaires was developed by a 24-member task force co-chaired by Gieryn, vice provost for faculty and academic affairs, and Stephens, vice provost for undergraduate education, and including faculty representatives and specialists in survey design and analysis, higher-education engagement and information technology.

"As we review faculty members for tenure and promotion," Gieryn said, "it is vitally important that we have accurate information about the quality of their teaching. The results from student course evaluations provide one valuable source for that information, along with syllabi and other course materials, peer evaluations of classroom teaching and candidates' own statements of their pedagogical ambitions and accomplishments."

"Faculty at IU Bloomington care deeply about their teaching," Stephens added, "and student course questionnaires can be a valuable tool for assessing the effectiveness of pedagogy. Online questionnaires will provide more timely and consistent feedback for faculty members and instructors. The goal is to do all we can to provide outstanding academic experiences for students."

The plan for online course questionnaires results from several years of work by IU Bloomington administrators and faculty. The task force reviewed extensive research on course evaluations, gathered information about the experience of peer institutions and developed a proposal for an online system.

Currently, schools and departments use a variety of questions and a variety of ways to administer course questionnaires. This makes it difficult to use responses to assess the quality of teaching across campus. Faculty who wish to demonstrate the effectiveness of their teaching in support of tenure, promotion and reappointment decisions aren't able to reliably use the student assessments for that purpose.

Also, while some academic units have moved to online course questionnaires, many use paper forms that can be inappropriately managed, are sometimes unreliable and can take valuable time away from teaching and learning. With online questionnaires, electronic results can be available in days, not months, and can be directly imported to an instructor's review dossier.

Plans call for implementing the online system over an 18-month period, concluding in the 2014 fall semester. More information, including links to answers to frequently asked questions, the Bloomington Faculty Council policy and a review of research, is available at the Office of the Provost website.