Transcript Senate Meeting
October 4, 2011
Ann Beth Presley, chair: I call this meeting to order. Good afternoon. I am Ann Beth Presley, Chair of the University Senate. I welcome you to the October Senate meeting. Senate membership is 88 senators. Please pick up your clicker as you sign in at the back of the room. If you could turn your clicker on now and press A; a quorum requires 45 senators. (Go till quorum established.) Yes we have a quorum.
A short review of rules of the Senate. Senators and substitutes for Senators, please sign in the and get your so you can vote. If you would like to speak about an issue, go to the microphone, state your name, whether you are a Senator and the unit your represent. The rules of the Senate require that senators be allowed to speak first; after all comments by Senators on an issue, guests are welcome to speak.
The first item on the agenda is approval of the minutes from the September meeting. Larry Crowley posted the minutes and sent a link to all Senators. Are there any additions, changes, or deletions to these? …Hearing none, the minutes will stand as approved as written.
I now invite Dr. Gogue to come forward to present the President’s remarks.
Dr. Gogue, president: Good to be with you today. I want to share with you a couple of things. Last week [2:21] the Federal Judge ruled on various aspects of the immigration law for the State of Alabama, still not completely clear how it affects all of us so Lee Armstrong and groups are still involved in that the element that deals with any business transaction that was left in the law, that’s one part that certainly has an effect on colleges. The other has to do with the verification of immigration status for enrollment, so Wayne Alderman and group are working on that. We will keep you posted as we move into that area.
Second thing I want to mention is, I think all of us were somewhat concerned that we may get proration in the month of September, that’s the final month of the fiscal year. We did not receive any additional proration form the governor in this particular September, so that was good news.
Third area that discussion is underway is in looking at changes in health insurance. I think all the employee groups and that are involved in the discussion as I understand it currently there are two categories in which you make payment to the health insurance, family and single. The new model that they are working with has 4 categories, still be single, still be family, but will also use single parent with family, and couple (2). So to restate; two, single, full family, single parent with a family, they are working through that.
I wanted to share with you that we received the Delaware data that comes out of every 2 years and we go through it and look at it. Don’t get excited if I don’t call your name or your program, it’s one element that you look at when you look at departments, but I was particularly pleased in part of it, we had 21 academic departments that actually in terms of research and scholarship, research dollars is all they measure so I shouldn’t say scholarship, but research dollars, we actually exceeded our peer groups that we measure against. I want to mention those to you I think they deserve to be called out:
Fisheries was 150% above their peers, Architecture was 460% above their peers. Special Ed Counseling 430% above their peers, Curriculum and Teaching 250% about their peers, Kinesiology about 150% above their peers. And then we have programs that exceeded, Computer Science, Aerospace Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering was about 270% above peers, Mechanical was 180% above peers. Polymer and Fiber Engineering 440% above peers, Industrial Engineering, Forestry, Human Development 775% above peers, English Department, Psychology, History, Pharmacy, Biology, and Physics. In just dollars the top 5 programs were: Fisheries was #5 Electrical Engineering was #4. To give you an idea Electrical Engineering is $400,000 per faculty member, so they came in forth on the campus. Forestry and Fisheries were basically tied at fifth $335,000 per faculty, human Development was $554,000 per faculty. Physics $465,000 per faculty, and the number one department was Polymer and Fiber Engineering $805,000 per faculty in terms of external research dollars. We are proud of those.
I also wanted to mention some fairly large awards that have come in in the research area in the year we just closed out. The Office of University Outreach received a competitive award for 4.6 million for the broadband equipment for rural Alabama computing centers. The Office of Navel Research funded an air filtration system for the Navy for 3.2 million. Fisheries go a 1.3 million from BP for their work down on the coastal fisheries. Ed Thomas in Physics got 1.5 million for Plasma Magnetized device that they are working on. Pat Curtis got 6.5 million for the FDA Food System Training Consortium. Mario Eden got about 3 million on sustainable production of fuels and chemicals. Steve Taylor and a number of people (when I name a name it’s really a lot of people on campus) in consortia with the University of Tennessee got 15 million in biomass supply systems. We got 2.5 million in the Alabama Healthy Marriage Initiative. So research and sponsored programs are up about 7% this year. I would just say it’s been a tough year, not a lot of flexible money, but certainly proud of what campus has been able to do. I’d be happy to respond to questions you may have. [8:09] Thank you.
Ann Beth Presley, chair: Thank you Dr. Gogue.
There are a couple of things I would like to mention at this meeting. One is that diplomas will now be mailed out to students following graduation rather than students picking them up on the day of graduation. This serves multiple purposes. It will allow professors an extra day to turn grades in. Diplomas will be mailed in a cardboard tube instead of being picked up by hand. Students don’t have to walk around campus, in traffic, to pick up the diploma and it is an approximate savings of $12,000 a year for the university. In addition, the students will receive a mini-diploma that will fit in their wallet.
The other announcement is that Jim Wohl will now be on a 100% appointment for the Ombudsperson position, we are excited about that. His responsibilities will now include both faculty and students. 75/25 Faculty/student split. That is a pretty typical split at university level for universities with only one ombudsperson.
The Fall General Faculty is October 25.
A few reminders about the Senate: All Senators, whether ex-officio or not, have a vote and should attend every Senate meeting. If you cannot attend, please send a substitute (who is not a sitting Senator); to the meeting, The substitute has full voting rights. Each Senator or substitute Senator should have signed in and picked up a clicker for use.
When you vote, please look at the clicker and make sure it has a light indicating it is on, as the clickers turn off after a length of time. If the light is out, turn the licker back on. Once you vote, your clicker should show a green light; this means your vote has been cast. If there is a red light, vote again. If you are not sure, please vote again. Only your last vote will be counted.
Today we have one action item and two information items. The action item involves the Rules Committee and will be presented by the Secretary, Larry Crowley.
Larry Crowley, secretary: We have a series of committee replacements to committee membership, we have 8 additional people that will fill out terms of expired members. Emily Myers will serve a term, that is if you vote to endorse, Dr. Tam will serve a term through 2012. The Core Curriculum has two additional members there, Robert Tufts and Lori Eckhardt and will serve terms in support of their departments and we additional replacement member, associate dean and chair that will serve on the Non-Tenure Track Instructors, we have the Writing committee and Libba McMillan will serve for Nursing and we are still looking for a person to replace a writing candidate from Business.
Ann Beth Presley, chair: First, is there any discussion of the slate of the volunteers? Thank you, Larry. Since this is a recommendation from the Rules committee, it does not require a second. Check to make sure your clickers are turned on. All those in favor press A, all opposed press B. A=53, B=2
The nominations carry.
The first information Item is being presented by Margaret Marshall about the Writing Center:
Margaret Marshall, director of University Writing: Hello, I was asked to do an update on the Writing Initiative. For those of you who have seen this multiple times bear with me, I’ve tried to make it as interesting as always.
So I’ll just remind you of the goals of the Writing Initiative and how significant this is. The faculty taskforce really wanted us to do an initiative that is relevant to faculty, sustainable by faculty, relevant to your majors and they worked pretty hard at reviewing the plans that departments submitted over the last year.
As you might have imagined there was some concerns voiced about how this would work and whether or not faculty could really do this extra work, but because the Writing Initiative is focused on what’s relevant to individual departments it’s shaped by those departments and sustainable by those faculty members, it seems that most people have really gotten on board. In fact we have successfully reviewed most of the plans. Overall we are at 88.5% complete, out of 113 plans we’ve reviewed 100 of them, actually today we reviewed two more so we have 79 plans now. So those 2 in committee have now moved over there were 10 extensions granted and those will be coming in later this fall. [15:09]
The committee is now working on that charge to do periodic review and what does that mean, how can we make the periodic review not be onerous and difficult for individual faculty or for departments, but something that’s actually meaningful and doable. So we’ve been thinking about questions and processes that will make this review process workable for everyone, not just extra busy work but actually something that would help you get your work done and have conversations with your colleagues in your departments.
We are thinking that we will probably divide out the plan so we are not looking at 113 plans in one year any more or ever again, but instead probably about 30 plans a year and that’s assuming program plans that were joined together will continue to stay joined together, and probably a rotation of about every third year your plan would come up to the committee.
To support the Writing Initiative my office was created with a broad goal of enhancing the culture of writing. We do that through a number of different components; support to students, faculty celebrating and promoting writing, doing research and assessment, and of course doing outreach. You can’t be here at Auburn and know that we value outreach. So let me give you a little bit of an update about what we’ve been doing in each of these areas.
As you know the Miller Writing Center is now open to all students including graduate students. I’m pleased to say that we were able to hire a coordinator of student services, I didn’t name it HR did and that’s what they named it. Travis Adams, if you would stand up and be introduced to everybody. Travis is the primary contact point at this stage for the Writing Center and for the other activities that support students, like workshops and the student writing counsel. We’ve got things going on with the residential life program, and so a number of different activities that we are now able to do because there is another person in my office.
You will remember that last year we also talked about whether or not to close the Haley Center and decided basically because of student requests that we stay open on that side of campus that we still needed a presence there but the room could be better used as a classroom space, so we relocated the Haley version of the Writing Center into the Learning Resource Center. And we are thankful to the college of Education for providing that space for us. We are also in the Student Union, Student Center in the Multicultural Center, and of course we still have the Athletic Center and Architecture site and a Forestry site, so there are a number of different locations. The goal is to bring services to where students are and where they need them.
You’ll also remember that we tried to support graduate students through a pilot project that facilitated writing groups in the Spring. We were able to run 6 groups. The students loved them, thought that they were very productive and very helpful to their writing sense of ability to get writing done but also to continue to improve their writing. We decided however that the model was actually unsustainable it simply cost too much money to pay facilitators to meet with graduate students. So we’ve been exploring other ways to support graduate students. This fall we are doing 2 events that we are calling Write Fest, one of them has already happened the other one is November 11. So graduate students come for an afternoon of writing, we give some hints, the strategies, we hope they will form writing groups on their own and we have tutors available as they need them. We had about 30 people participate in the first one, so there’s still room for people to get in on the second session.
We are also doing a number of different activities I suppose the most important is that we are ready to hire additional tutors for the spring because we have a number of students that are going on Study Abroad or are graduating in December. So if you know students that would be good tutors we’d like to hear that. There are flyers at the back. If you need flyers for your department or for your students directly please contact Travis and he will be sure to get you additional flyers.
So the support for faculty this is mostly workshops. The symposium was fairly successful, 39 faculty from 29 different departments; 18 of them completed all 4 workshops and revised their course in significant ways; 12 of them presented their work at a poster reception that was held at the beginning of this semester. If you weren’t there you missed a great time. I will try to do that on a regular basis so that you’ll have a chance to see faculty work in the future. This year the topics are related but actually quite different, the 2 that you haven’t yet missed are scaffolding and doing program assessment and course grading simultaneously. That last one will be presented by Tony Overfelt from Materials Engineering.
We are also moving the symposium from last year into a digital format so that it will be accessible via the Web site and we are still working on different departmental workshops as requested. So if there is something specific and tailored to your needs that you would like us to help you with, we are happy to talk with you about how best to do that.
Let me just point to the resources online. This is our faculty resource page, notice at the top it says faculty resources. There are all kinds of materials here and links and this is where we will post the digital symposium when it is ready. If you haven’t visited our Web site recently I would encourage you to do so, it changes on a regular basis.
Next thing we are doing is a number of different activities that celebrate and promote writing. We’re involved with the Undergraduate Research Journal, Aujus, the meaty journal, there are flyers for that, calls for proposals. If you’ve got students that are doing original research we’d love to hear from them and have a submission from them. [21:55] The student editors that are working on that project are really a great group of students so we are looking forward to having the debut edition during research week in April.
We are also working with Auburn Speaks, again there are flyers for that, the next topic for 2013 is identified as Auburn Speaks on Water. Graeham Lockaby has agreed to be the editor for that. What’s especially exciting form my point of view about Auburn Speaks is what a different kind of publication it is, not quite a research anthology, not quite a coffee-table book, not quite a high-gloss publicity piece, but something that really bridges the gap between all of those. It has caught the interest of the center for communicating science to the public, they see this, the companion Web site, and the public events that we expect to launch connected to Auburn Speaks as potentially a national model.
And finally we are continuing to do profiles on our Web site. The student writing counsel has taken this on, so if you know somebody that is doing interesting writing in your college, please let us know, we’d love to feature them on the Web site. And finally the spring contest of the common book contest is coming. We pushed the date back this year so the deadline for the spring contest is February 1, all undergraduate students are welcome to submit.
Research and Assessment, we continue to analyze the date we got from the NSSE Consortium of colleges studying writing. There is a lot of rich data there and we are trying to understand it, we will probably participate again in 5 years in order to have a comparison of where we were before the Initiative started and where we hope to be in 5 years. Again one of the exciting features of that is that Auburn has been identified as a model lesson from the field and will be featured in a NSSE publication that is due out in January.
Our own assessment. We did 4,459 Writing Center consultations last year. About 41% of our students returned for a second visit with an average number of visits as 2.5 visits per student. So we are pretty pleased with that. Earlier we had hardly any students returning for a second visit so we’re very pleased with that. We are still doing our longitudinal study, we’ve begun working with our first case study of participants. [24:41]
Then finally outreach, we participated this summer with the Alabama Humanities Foundation Super Emerging Scholars. These are students who are identified from rural areas of Alabama that came to campus for a week, Worked with Kevin Rusen and with the Center for Arts and Humanities. They will be producing a publication of the student writing from that summer work. We participated with them providing tutoring sessions. We are also working with a number of different units here on campus, including again the Center for Arts and Humanities, the Director of Undergraduate Research. A number of different collaborative partnerships can’t do this just with my office alone, it’s doing it with you, so if you have ideas of things that you would like to partner with us about, please talk to us.
Then finally we are involved in a national consortium of writing across the communities. This is a new group, but takes us again onto the National scene, which is one of our objectives. So that’s it I’m happy to talk to you about other ideas that you have things that you think we should be doing and have missed or things you think we could get better at. Questions? My work here is done.
Ann Beth Presley, chair: Thank you, Margaret, very much.
The next information is being presented by Sushil Bhavnani from the Teaching Effectiveness Committee. He will be discussing the new Teaching Evaluation System, with Emmett, to be put into effect this fall.
Emmett Winn, associate provost: Hi everybody. Sushil decided that I could do the talking to begin with and he would answer all the questions.
We’ll be brief in presenting our information. The real point to all of this is the Steering Committee asked us to come and do this to give you an update on how things are progressing, but also to give you all an opportunity to voice your thoughts and concerns and ask questions about the CourseEval process that we are implementing this fall. So we want to save plenty of time for that. For those of you who want to send us questions, comments, those kinds of things after the meeting please feel free to e-mail us or call us. We’re available and ready to do that.
Just briefly we will start with a little background information, some of you are probably very familiar with others it may be a little bit of new news to you. For a few years we used a hard copy paper evaluation tool that was out of the University of Washington. When we launched into that about 4 years ago we did it with the impression that we would to a 3-year trial. The real dollar cost on that ended up being $80,500 per year, that’s an average over 3 years. This past year just ended and it was right at $80,000 also. Because of the expense, but also because of the labor; there is a great deal of labor involved in ordering the scantrons, getting the scantrons, distributing the scantrons to the colleges and departments, having the students then fill out the scantrons, and the whole thing gets reversed and sent back. There’s a lot of labor cost that’s not included in these dollars and a lot of time.
The Teaching Effectiveness Committee, which is a Senate committee, was charged by the Senate leadership to identify some suitable alternatives for that process. The Senate Teaching Effectiveness Committee ended up recommending an online system and then that system one of the providers is CourseEval. So that recommendation came forward from them. On June 7  the revised policy came from the Teaching Effectiveness Committee and was approved by the Senate, and at that meeting the Senate also provided a group of 10 kind of broadly applicable questions that could be used. Certainly not going to go through all this, just to give you an idea, the whole presention with all of the names is available with the agenda online, Teaching Effectiveness Committee and then the CourseEval implementation committee.
The CourseEval implementation committee came about in about August when people realized that implementing this was going to require a great deal of administrative help. To so at that time the Interim Provost Boosinger suggested that we put together sort of an ad hoc implementation committee that could provide a lot of administrative help. That was done with the cooperation and support of the Senate leadership and that’s how we arrived at the membership for the CouseEval implementation committee. You will notice that it includes Sushil Bhavnani, my colleague, who is also the chair of the Teaching Effectiveness Committee.
Very quickly for those of you who don’t know some of the key aspects of the policy that was approved on June 7, some of those are that teaching evaluation data should not be the only measurement to evaluate teaching. The Handbook is very clear that that is not the only measure that should be used to evaluate teaching at Auburn University. It included a requirement to do every course each time it is taught. Courses of an individual nature, dissertation, research, thesis research, independent study, all of those may be exempted. The survey should have 8–13 questions with at least on free response question. And the Teaching Effectiveness also provided those 10 broadly applicable questions that could be used. Colleges and departments in consultation with representative faculty can change the survey instrument as needed, and that in fact was one of the big positives about CourseEval was that you can tailor it to the course level, college level, department level so for and so on. And for those of you who are really looking for a good read, the entire policy can be reached at that link. And lastly because it is the question that Sushil and I get asked most often, access to the data is governed chapter 4 section 3 of the Faculty Handbook. No changes were made to that. Those of you who think I am speaking Greek, that means to this day the rule has not changed, only the individual faculty and their department chairs have access to the actual teaching evaluation data. It’s been that way for many years and it continues that way. Only aggregate data would ever be provided to any other person. So your teaching evaluation is only seen by yourself and your chair of your department with the exception of P&T, which you all know that 3 representative evaluations are chosen and then included in the packet that you’re involved in that process.
These are the questions, the broadly applicable questions that the Teaching Effectiveness Committee developed and brought with the policy when it was approved on June 7. The way the policy was approved was these questions can be used or they cannot be used, they are not mandated.
Very quickly, where we’re at and where we’ve been through the implementation process. September 7 this was presented to the associate dean, the provost sent a memo to the faculty on the 12th, we received feedback from the colleges on the 21st, We’re at Oct. 4, our Senate presentation, as we go forth from here we enter into a phase of intense communication with faculty about the process and how it’s going to be conducted, that is in turn also done with instructions to students on how this is going to be done. We received a lot of questions about when the survey will close, it will close on December 4 which is the second reading day after [before] finals. Once finals begin the surveys will no longer be available to the students. It’s the way it’s been in the past. Evaluations were always given last week or so, not during exams.
Then and this is another plus for CourseEval, you can actually log on and get your teaching evaluation on December 12. You will be able to log on and see your teaching evaluation for the semester on December 12, that’s commencement day. That information has never been released that soon. We targeted January 20 as the time the committee would come back together, let’s look at some results and assess how things are going.
One key thing we do want to talk about is incentives to students to get them to learn about doing this and to do it. Many schools that have used CourseEval had a lot of positive results with the incentives. Although students are required to do this, mandated to do it, incentives are certainly a good way and so we have some commitments for some things like iPads and discounts from the bookstore and things like that so when students complete their evaluations they would then be sort of put into a hat so we could draw some names. We would give away some grand prizes and then some discounted things. With that we will open it up to comments and questions. [35:25]
Sanjeev Baskiyar, senator, computer Science and Software Engineering: Just wondering if it is possible for you to include something which says that students have attended the class and then do the evaluation. There are several classes in which some students never show up and they do the evaluation, how would you distinguished that? It may be a good idea to have some sort of distinction.
Emmett Winn, Assoc. Provost: Good feedback. We have received similar feedback like that, those kinds of questions can be included in the survey. People also wanted to ask questions; in the past there were questions like “what would you expect to get, what kind of grade would you expect to get in the class and those kinds of things. Those kinds of questions can be added to the surveys, so definitely that can be done decisions made by the faculty and their departments.
David King, geology and geography, senator: Emmett and I have communicated and I appreciate all the answers to my questions and we have communicated about this matter but did still want to bring this up that I remain deeply concerned that because this is an anonymous system and in the end we don’t have any control over who will respond and not, because we are not withholding their grades, they may win an iPad but still response rates are traditionally low on these kinds of things. I’ve participated in soliciting things from the faculty at large on surveys and was told that a 30% return was really excellent. You can look at what people do when they have to vote on things like in a tax election and there might be a 5% turnout. I really think that the turnouts on these are going to be extraordinarily low at least in some departments that might have (?) [38:18] What happens when you have a class of 20, 30, 50, 200 and then there are a dozen evaluations? Is that really stastically significant or valid. I think that kind of an argument can be made about even the paper evaluations, but when the numbers are really low shouldn’t there be some kind of a threashold where it is just thrown out? Because I really don’t think there is, I know that you say other forms of evaluation are to be used in the Handbook, but in reality the course evaluation is in many departments the main thing. It’s connected with tenure, promotion, raises, and then we have this problem with low participation. I hope this is not the end of course evaluations as we know at Auburn. I hope this is a new beginning and it’s better, but I am deeply concerned about what low participation rates.
Sushil Bhavnani, Chair of Teaching Effectiveness: That’ a very valid concern and we’ve started acquiring information on that. We’ve acquired information from our peers that are using course evaluations from this maker. Among those that use this evaluation are the University of Maryland, and we’ve had communications with them and will share their statistics with you in a moment, also Perdu University and we’ve got statistics and will share those too, the University of Arkansas main campus in Fayetteville is instituting it this fall, they are in sync with us, University of Miami, Arizona State University, University of Cincinnatti or other comparable size institutions that are using it. The statistics we have in complete set so far come from the University of Maryland and they tell us that it is in use campus wide and have a 63% participation rate. I think more interesting information came from Perdue where their participation rate, one for fall semester and spring semester that averaged 59.5%. And they also gave us their old paper tool participation, which was 69%, so they are seeing a drop off of 10%. This is a valid concern and with the incentive program we hope to try to do everything to make sure that that number gets even closer to the paper percentage.
Bob Locy, senator, biological sciences: I have another question to ask, but after what you just said I want to ask you first to comment on whether there is any information from these other schools available on not just the quantity of response that they get, but the quality of response that they get. For example, is there any way of correlating the student attendance in class [41:31] with the responses that they make because for example my class this morning has 38 people registered in it and had 22 in attendance and has been running that way all semester long. If I get decent responses from the 22 people that have been there most of the time all semester long I will feel like it is a valid piece of information that I should pay attention to, but if it’s the person who only came to one exam during the course and I can’t get him to respond to e-mails about why he’s not been there, how am I to trust that as a valid response of the quality of my instruction if the quality of his attendance is in that ballpark? [42:21]
Emmett Winn, assoc. provost: Thanks Bob, let me give you the answer that we have and then let me acknowledge that it doesn’t fully answer the question that you asked, if that’s fair? What we have is a lot of very good data from several different institutions that show that the quality of the data that is received through CourseEval is actually as accurate or better than the quality of the data that is received on their paper instruments. Even with the decrease in response. So the quality has not changed according to all of the studies that the different universities have done, in fact it is slightly better even with a decrease in response. [43:21]
Now that doesn’t speak directly to your question which is…what am I going to be able to do about this guy who hasn’t been to class in the last 5 weeks and he’s filling out an evaluation? I don’t have an answer for that.
Bob Locy, senator, biological sciences: How is the judgment made that the quality of the data is as good or better?
Emmett Winn, assoc provost: At this point I will remind you, Bob, that my PhD is in Film Studies and I am not qualified to speak on issues related to statistics, my friend Michael Stern is here, he’s pretty good…I’m trusting that the data that they are reporting, they are reporting in statistical ways that they do have data that (?).
Bob Locy, senator, biological sciences: The question that I actually stood up to ask is that on June 7 when Dr. Phelps made this presentation I asked the senate leadership to convey to the Teaching Effectiveness Committee that that I thought we needed to develop some type of a plan to take the money that we are saving from the use of our paper instrument and turn it productively into doing something to improve the quality of instruction at Auburn University. As it turns out with the numbers that you gave somewhere between 55 and 60 thousand dollars that previously has been committed to trying to assess the quality of our instruction, if we are now able to do that effectively at a much cheaper price I’d like to know what we are going to do with that 55 and 60 thousand dollars to help us all to become better teachers and instructors. So I guess by asking this question I am conveying to the new Teaching Effectiveness Chair, that I’d really like to see your committee work on that during the course of the year. You may already have something in mind.
Sushil Bhavnani, Chair of Teaching Effectiveness: Thank you.
Peter Stanwick, senator, College of Business dept. of Management: My concern is who is actually filling out these evaluations? What’s to stop a student to give the information to a roommate and then all of the sudden fill out for the courses to get an iPad, which actually has no relevance at all and yet as I mentioned my raises are based on this number.
Sushil Bhavnani, Chair of Teaching Effectiveness: It’s governed by the same rules that allows students to register for courses. It’s the same gateway.
Peter Stanwick, senator, College of Business dept. of Management: In my rebuttal, I know when I go to class who’s in my class, so when evaluations are given out I know that those people are in my class. Now if you have a completely anonymous online system what’s to stop one person from filling out 10 different people’s courses that actually were never attending that class?
Emmett Winn, assoc. provost: Well again let me give you the answer and it may not be answering the exact question you are asking; for someone to fill out 10 different ones they would have to have the password and the user ID for each of those students. If they had that information, obviously they could log on and fill out that evaluation.
Peter Stanwick, senator, College of Business dept. of Management: In other words you have no safeguards to actually identify other than name and password? So you are saying that you have no way to trace exactly who filled out the forms?
Emmett Winn, assoc. provost: I can tell you that the information for the course evaluation is only sent to that student uniquely, I’m looking at Bliss… so each student would receive a unique notification that their evaluation is ready to be filled out. The only way that student could access that would be by using their user ID and password.
Peter Stanwick, senator, College of Business dept. of Management: So in other words, there is no safeguard?
Ruth Crocker, senator from History: I certainly share the reservations and in fact quite troubling questions that my colleagues and senators brought up. What is there to stop us from administering this in the class time when we would have say 3 students absent out of 30 or something like that? [48:18] Since our students are connected virtually all the time to something or another, can they just take out an iPhone and do it in class with the usual restrictions, don’t talk to each other and that kind of thing?
Sushil Bhavnani, Chair of Teaching Effectiveness: That is a common way to incentivize it, they have done that on other campuses. Some other campuses, and I am not suggesting this, might assign 1% of the grade to the whole class for filling that out while they are in class.
Ruth Crocker, senator from History: So take 15 minutes of class time as we do with written ones and give a prelude that this is very serious, this can affect your professors. Have somebody (talking over cannot make it out) it for you, and then have them use their iPhones to do it. A suggestion.
David King, senator, geology and geography: It’s been my experience large lower division classes that the one person that has the students user ID and Password is the parents, so I am somewhat concerned that in some instances these evaluation may be filled out by parents. Which might be a good thing.
The actual reason I came back to the microphone was I would like for the Teaching Effectiveness committee to encourage departments to look at the change that may occur in individual faculty evaluations as we transition the processes. Because if the number go up or go down significantly I wonder if the method is not the reason why and there may be explanations for that but I think it should be looked at.
Sushil Bhavnani, Chair of Teaching Effectiveness: I think that’s a good comment and I think it’s similar to what happened when we moved to the IAS University of Washington system, where I believe numbers went down a little bit but kind of uniformly.
Charlie Eick, senator, curriculum and teaching: I know the policy is mandatory and there has been talk about enforcement about having students complete it. I would encourage the committee to be looking at that as well as ways that we would know certainly in advance of posting a final grade if there were students that had not completed the evaluation so they could be reminded that they need to complete the evaluation before their final grade.
Emmett Winn, assoc. provost: The last one is easy because we can do that, we can send reminders to people who have not completed their evaluations and that is part of the communications strategy. So that part I think we have covered. I forgot the word for it Charles, I’m sorry.
Charlie Eick, senator, curriculum and teaching: I think you may had mentioned that there were some program or areas that we were looking at mandatory enforcement in terms of requiring students to have it complete before grades could be submitted and if that’s the case it can be done, then there would just be a mechanism needed so that the program area would know who has not yet submitted to the total to complete this. Of course there is no guarantee what they are going to put down and there is no guarantee that someone sits down and takes a paper and pencil of what they will or won’t put down but at least a good nature of students is to put something down constructive presented with that situation.
Emmett Winn, assoc. provost: The most common sort of penalty that’s used out there among schools using CourseEval is [56:26] they will not release the student’s grade. That’s sort of the common one out there. I tried to look around and see if any of our student reps are here and I don’t see…oh, there we are, great. From our student reps are supportive of that type of measure if we have to go there. I’ve also talked with folks in student affairs, and they’re very supportive of that type of move also. It’s important for everybody to understand that once you start withholding student’s grades for things there can be a cascade of things that can happen; their course schedules get dropped, they loose their financial aid and that sort of stuff can happen and we need to be very careful with how we do that. I think that’s why even at schools that have that sort of mandate you still don’t have 100%, because if you hold a student’s grades long enough for their financial aid to get cancelled and their next schedule drops and that’s what’s set up is a whole lot of problems down the road. We do have support among that with the students and we do have support from Student Affairs for a move like that, however to be honest the implementation committee would really like to see what we are up against in terms of response rates. Then we can assess that and see what does happen. If we end up with a 69% response rate that’s different than if we end up with a 50% or 40%. Does that make any sense to you Charles? Your kind of looking for what do we need to do and then what can we do to improve it.
Charlie Eick, senator, curriculum and teaching: The main concern for us is that if we teach smaller classes of 25 or 30 students and a substantial chunk don’t respond the fact that this is probably the predominant instrument used to evaluate promotion and tenure at least in my department.
Emmett Winn, assoc. provost: Absolutely, thank you. As Sushil said when he answered the first question, certainly response rates are the important thing to look at in terms of immediate assessment. [54:55]
Ralph Henderson, senator, veterinary clinical sciences: college of Vet Medicine has been using electronic evaluations for about 3 or 4 years now and they seem to have been working very well for us. The one thing as a faculty member that is a challenge for me is some of the critic if you would that students provide is very specific and it’s erroneous. They may say, ‘you didn’t cover such and such and yet it was on the exam’ and yada, yada. If these are unique documents in other words they are sent uniquely, that student will have a unique identifier coming back, it would be fabulous as a teaching tool to be able to respond even anonymously to this anonymous #15573 whatever [55:47] it is. And just write back and say if you go look at PowerPoint slide number 5 it will show exactly where the answer was. It could be a great teaching tool, and I think we are missing an opportunity with that.
Ann Beth Presley, chair: That’s a great idea.
Sushil Bhavnani, chair of Teaching Effectiveness Committee: That’s a good idea, the recommendation we see from our peers is when you have open ended questions, the free response questions, don’t ask questions like “do you have any additional comments?”, rather you might want to ask a question like “Please provide suggestions that would improve the course.” Other such information will help us create a better instrument that we are in the process of acquiring.
Herb Rotfeld, senator, marketing: Noted just two strange questions that have been coming forward, one is a concern for a high response rate and another is about people who shouldn’t be responding in the first place. A couple of directed questions on that, can students have a “W” in the course be part of people who are evaluating? They are on the roster at the end of the term, so if somebody withdraws, people who withdraw tomorrow are they still able to evaluate the course?
Sushil Bhavnani, chair of Teaching Effectiveness Committee: No.
Herb Rotfeld, senator, marketing: They are no longer listed on the roster.
Sushil Bhavnani, chair of Teaching Effectiveness Committee: We would remove them, right.
Emmett Winn, assoc. Provost: Because we don’t run that roster, we would have to export that roster out of Banner to get the names and those people would no longer be enrolled in the course.
Herb Rotfeld, senator, marketing: Actually that’s not correct in terms of the rosters that are on Banner. When I get the grade report and get things down, you have everyone that was in the class after the 15th class day.
Emmett Winn, assoc. Provost: We can take them out with the “W.” We can manipulate the data that way.
Herb Rotfeld, senator, marketing: I don’t think you’ve answered it. Are the people with the “Ws” going to allowed to evaluate?
Emmett Winn, assoc. Provost: They will not receive the e-mail for the course, how about that one Herb?
Herb Rotfeld, senator, marketing: That’s an improvement. You mention the statement that for concerns with grade relations there is a thing for students to be asked their grades, and students always say exactly what they are going to get, (that’s scarcasim…what are we slow today?). Is there a way for this system to have data included from the faculty or from Banner such as on attendance rates or grade distributions? So as the information comes in somebody is looking at the scores, it could also be recorded, x number of As, x number of Bs, some of them have FA, can that also be included in the report?
Emmett Winn, assoc. Provost: I honestly don’t know the answer to that one at this point.
Herb Rotfeld, senator, marketing: I got one you don’t know. Okay mark one there. But that would be important in terms of the concerns for the people who are not attending, they could end up probably with FAs in most cases. That would be from Banner, another related thing, would it be possible to enter from the faculty members some such things as attendance rates? Not for individuals, general patterns absent on a given date? Please investigate.
Emmett Winn, assoc. Provost: I guess Herb CourseEval may not have that specific capability, but there is no reason why those reports could not be generated at the department level and incorporated.
Herb Rotfeld, senator, marketing: Given the common number of people that are asking questions concerning people who are responding to the survey and shouldn’t be doing so and since this data goes beyond departments for uses and applications and directions in terms of what is being delt with in their various areas, I think the faculty concerns in that area would be addressed if information could be included the number of FAs, attendance rates, or other relevant information that can be put in the report as opposed depending on the students to honestly report what their classes are.
Emmett Winn, assoc. Provost: If you are looking for an aggregate report, which would be the only thing that would go forward past the department chair, there is no reason why that information could not be tabulated and included in the aggregate report. If the information is available.
Herb Rotfeld, senator, marketing: One other directed question if I may? Looking at the makeup of the implementation committee which is also what you said not just concerning with technical aspects of implementation but some other concerns of assessment of what you are dealing with here though the expertise of peoples primarily in terms of the computer program and systems involved. What you are lacking is anyone there with an expertise or insight into social science research methods.
Emmett Winn, assoc. Provost: Thank you Herb.
Herb Rotfeld, senator, marketing: don’t you think that would be a worthy addition?
Emmett Winn, assoc. Provost: Herb I think that the implementation committee was charged to implement CourseEval and to make recommendations to the Teaching Effectiveness Committee. I think that one of our recommendations should be, that we need to look at that kind of makeup, sure.
Bart Prorok, senator, mechanical engineering: Just a quick comment before my question. I think the concern over the student who has not attended in 5 weeks may happen to show up on the day that it’s given and I would say that online they filter these folks out because they’ve got better things to do than go to class, then they have better things to do than fill these surveys out. But my question is since this is a data set can we incorporate or attach to it the IP address of the computer it came from that would give you a search string that you could determine is an inordinate number coming from a particular IP address and is either a common fraternity or somewhere else. That could give you an indicator that there could be something inappropriate going on.
Emmett Winn, assoc. Provost: I think I mentioned that my PhD is in Film Studies, so we will let Bliss…
Bart Prorok, senator, mechanical engineering: It should be easily to be incorporated, this is all being done online so the IP address is available.
Emmett Winn, assoc. Provost: Bliss?
Bliss Bailey, OIT: Yes
Bart Prorok, senator, mechanical engineering: That might be a good piece of data to attach to each one.
Ann Beth Presley, chair: Thank you for that, and Bliss thank you.
Sanjeev Baskiyar, senator, computer science and software engineering: I have a suggestion regarding the attendance of the students and who actually is going to fill out the evaluation form. Is it possible that we print out a code for each class and give it to the faculty and have the faculty distribute the code in the class to each student and that code could be used to fill out the CourseEval forms. At that time you are sure that students are coming to the class and only the students that are coming are actually being given the code. In addition it will make it difficult for one student to fill out many forms online.
Sushil Bhavnani, chair of Teaching Effectiveness Committee: We’ll look into it.
Michael Stern, senator, economics: I see a principle concern here is about sampling. Since the students have to log in to fill this out you have a record of who filled one out and who didn’t. Calculate the average GPA from what’s awarded in that class from those that filled it out versus those who didn’t. When you study it in January that will tell you what quality of students you are sampling versus which quality you are not, and if the average GPA points awarded to those who filled it out was much higher than those who did not you are surveying primarily the good students. In regards to sampling students that aren’t attending regularly or are attending on the day you hand out hard copies; I like to get feedback also from students attending a lot of class because one of the reasons some of them don’t attend is that they don’t like the product they are receiving in the class. And I do think it is worthy getting feedback from those types of students. So I’ve had students that didn’t attend a class very often but they are almost straight A students, and some of the classes they were not attending because they were not getting much out of that class. When a nearly A student has bad [1:05:29] attendance getting his feedback on what he thinks about this class, some may attend early find it’s not valuable and are learning from a book or somewhere else. we see that somewhat frequently depending on who the instructor is for a given class while some motivate attendance much better than others. One thing we would look at is not only the feedback that came in on those forms from Washington but also the percentages of students registered for class that filled it out, because that gave us attendance information on what that instructor was doing in that class. We saw people run a class that only had 20% of the students fill out that form, that response rate gave us information about attendance in that class. But you can alleviate the quality of sampling just by having a GPA statistic for those that filled it out versus those who didn’t to see what you are actually observing.
Ann Beth Presley, chair: Thank you, Michael. That’s the last comment, if you have any other comments please send them to the chair. Thank you Sushil for all of your hard work.
Sushil Bhavnani, chair of Teaching Effectiveness Committee: Thank you and I would like to say that members of the Teaching Effectiveness Committee are in the audience and have been recording these comments.
Emmett Winn, assoc. Provost: Michael do you want to be on the implementation committee? (rhetorical)
Ann Beth Presley, chair: That was the last item on the agenda. Does anybody have any unfinished business? If not, we are adjourned. Be sure to return the clickers on your way out. Thank you very much.
Guy Rohrbauh, senator, philosophy: Would it be possible to put on the agenda for the next month a quick information item from Payroll and Benefits about some changing…
Ann Beth Presley, chair: We’re going to talk about that at the General Faculty Meeting. [1:07:22]