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By Bryon Wells
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 10, 1998

Teacher-course evaluations can influence promotions

The online publication of teacher-course evaluation results will let students see that their opinion does figure into quality of education planning, UA officials said.

One of the problems with interpreting the evaluations is that it is hard for students to take the forms seriously without ever seeing the results, said Jennifer Franklin, director of Instructional Assessment/Evaluation Services.

"I think many students don't realize that they are part of the process," Franklin said. "Now that they're online, they will be able to see that their efforts are helpful."

The evaluation ratings are one source of data, along with peer and administrative review, that help determine ways instructors can improve their teaching, Franklin said.

The ratings also can influence promotion and tenure decisions, she said.

While instructors who receive consistent high marks on the evaluations can eventually win teaching excellence awards and merit raises, they are not in danger of losing their jobs if their performance is on the inverse side of the scale, Franklin said.

The ratings are not used for judging popularity contests, or for students to get revenge for a bad grade, she added.

"Some students think that department heads will see them and they'll be able to rat out their instructors, but that is not the case," Franklin said.

Franklin said few instructors at the UA receive constant low marks, and that anybody can have a bad course. If department administrators find that an instructor is not making the grade, she is not ordered to clean out her desk immediately.

After considerating factors, such as how many years the instructor has taught and how her results compare to instructors teaching the same subject, a low-scoring instructor is first given help to improve.

Instructors can be referred to the University Teaching Center, University Learning Center, or to Instructional Assessment and Evaluation Services.

Franklin said department heads can put struggling instructors on notice to improve within a set period of time and show fixed progress.

Kim Montanaro, Associated Students academic affairs director, said it is possible that instructor ratings will get higher with the advent of the online publication.

Montanaro, a student member of the Faculty Senate, proposed the online version because it would be more feasible than spending about $60,000 to publish the results in a book.

The online plan, designed by Franklin and CCIT systems analyst Brett Bendickson, was approved by the Faculty Senate in April.

"What we've gone and done is developed a closed site that anyone with a U. account can access," Montanaro said.

She added that future plans for the site include links to course information and syllabi by clicking on an instructor's name.

The Web site is at http://w3.arizona.edu/~oce/.

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