Teacher evaluations go online this semester

Taylor Harrison

The Student Input to Teaching Effectiveness (SITE) evaluations that students take at the end of each semester are going digital.

Instead of someone coming to the classroom and handing out paper and pencils, students will have to complete the evaluations online at the end of this semester.

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said the Faculty Senate recommended the change.

“Really, this is a faculty initiative,” Emslie said.

Doug McElroy, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, is working closely with the Office of Institutional Research to  help move the evaluations online. That office has administered the paper version of the test for years, McElroy said.

“It was a shared decision to take a look at this,” McElroy said.

After doing research on the idea, McElroy said they brought their information to the academic quality committee of the senate, who then made the official recommendation.

McElroy also said the online method is more flexible for students. The way to administer the surveys — Evaluation Kit — allows students to download a mobile app or take the evaluations online. They can also evaluate more than one course at once.

“So, it’s more like completing a series of surveys than it was in the past where you had the form that you were given in class on one day,” McElroy said. “You’ll have a period of time, probably two weeks, to evaluate your courses.”

McElroy said another benefit is that faculty will get their evaluation results back much more quickly with this system.

There will be incentives to encourage students to take the surveys, but nothing specific is finalized yet.

Guy Jordan, an assistant professor in the art department, was the head of the academic quality council when they made the recommendation for online evaluations.

“We felt the way the SITE evaluations were delivered was very clunky. It was not very cost effective,” Jordan said.

Jordan said the standard set of questions will be the same, but eventually professors will be able to add their own specific questions to the existing questions.

“This is going to allow for a lot more customization by faculty to get, you know, more accurate and specific feedback about a particular course that they teach,” Jordan said.

Jordan also said that while there will probably be a decrease in participation when the SITE evaluations are moved online, studies show that students get used to the process and the participation goes back up.

“Other schools have done this and have done just fine and I don’t think we’ll be any different,” Jordan said.