Student evaluations aimed at enhancing instruction, student success

Email this article 02/08/2012

A successful first run has SWTJC staff hopeful that online student evaluations of instructors will become a very helpful tool in enhancing instruction and improving student success.

According to Carol LaRue, SWTJC coordinator of institutional effectiveness and research, the new online evaluations were implemented during the fall 2011 semester.

"For our first time, we were very pleased that 75% of our students completed these online evaluations," LaRue said. "I commend our faculty for promoting the new system and encouraging their students to participate."

Using the Likert scale of 1 to 5, students are asked to evaluate instructors on 22 different items covering a variety of topics. A comments section is also included on each evaluation a student fills out. All evaluations are anonymous.

Prior to instituting the online system, instructors were only evaluated in one class for each course they taught. "In addition to getting input on each class, the new system is incredibly more efficient," La Rue said.

Overall evaluations of each SWTJC instructor are accessible through the college web site, in compliance with a recent bill passed by the Texas Legislature. Evaluations are presented in a chart format and individual instructors are compared with a composite score of all SWTJC instructors of a given course.

To access the evaluations, click on the directory icon on the college home page, find the name of the instructor whose evaluations you wish to view, go to the instructor's directory page and click on the "evals" icon.

Student comments may only be viewed by individual instructors, division chairs, department heads and deans.

"We want students to know we value them as partners and that these evaluations are a way to have their voices heard," LaRue said.

SWTJC Dean of Instructional Services Hector Gonzales says the evaluations will be used by faculty and administration for professional growth. "The bottom line is we are always striving to enhance the quality of instruction and students evaluations are a valuable tool in reaching that goal," Gonzales said.

Within the next couple of semesters, Gonzales said he hopes to make filling out the online instructor evaluations a requirement before students can access their grades. "Our aim is to get 100% participation from our students on instructor evaluations," Gonzales said.

SWTJC Director of Professional Development sees the new evaluation system as a benefit to both students and faculty. "It gives faculty the opportunity to get input and grow professionally and it lets our students know they are at a school that cares what they think," Coe said.

Journalism instructor Terrie Wilson said she found the student comments to be very valuable. "One student commented that they had learned to be more responsible by having to meet deadlines in turning in stories for the school newspaper," Wilson said. "That comment reinforces my commitment to enforcing strict deadlines on story assignments."

Students will be able to fill out online evaluations for their spring classes in late March or early April.

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