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Student evaluations of teaching are being used, but how?

November 22, 2010

(Also published as a letter to The Fulcrum)

At a Nov. 11 meeting of the Senate committee that handles teaching evaluations, the Dean of Graduate Studies, Gary Slater, reported that poor teaching evaluations, including student evaluations of their professors’ teaching, were the deciding reason that four profs were denied tenure at a recent tenure review board.

Of course, the flip side should also hold and it is included in the profs’ collective agreement: outstanding teaching can compensate for research work that is “merely satisfactory”.  But does it?  Do the outstanding profs, as ranked by their students, get to keep their jobs after all?

Student evaluations of teaching are being used – we just don’t know how.  Let’s have public reports on profs’ promotion reviews, exposing the influence of student evaluations on the promotions of professors.

Otherwise student evaluations go into another black box at Tabaret Hall, and we don’t know how what we put in ends up as what we get out – and let’s just say that what we’re getting out ain’t worth an A+…

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