A shorter professor evaluation form could be approved by Academic Affairs at the University of South Dakota by the end of the semester, interim Provost Kurt Hackemer said.
The current diagnostic form of evaluations, which is 47 questions long, could potentially be replaced by a shortened 18 question evaluation, pending approval by Academic Affairs.
“This would go into effect for the fall 2014 semester,” Hackemer said.
The discussion to shorten professor evaluations format was brought up by the deans in winter 2013 after questions were raised about student fatigue while filling out the evaluations.
Since then, USD Academic Affairs and Hackemer have looked into whether the long and short format effects the data it provides.
“What we know based on stat analysis is that both forms are equally good at telling us whether the course is a good course,” Hackemer said. “What we know in terms of measuring the quality of a course or subject, there is no difference in what long and short forms can do. But statistically, this is something the developers or the form back up.”
Senior Sarah Merrigan is studying to become a teacher and said said shortening the professor evaluations would be beneficial in making up for those who rush through evaluations, and don’t take them seriously.
“It’s the end of the year and some students just rush through it because they want to get out of there,” she said. “I am going to be a teacher, so my teachers and teaching me how to teach, so I like to think my feedback plays a role in how I’m taught, and how I teach after I graduate.”
Center for Teaching and Learning director Bruce Kelley said while the data provided by each form may differ very little, he slightly prefers the diagnostic form.
“I prefer the diagnostic form over the short form just slight, only because it would continue the data we already have,” Kelley said.
Kelley said losing questions could discontinue certain data points risen by various questions, but that questions in the long form are specifically grouped to rate a professor or class on certain topic, so consolidating the questions into a shorter form would still achieve the evaluation’s goal.
The Center for Teaching and Learning utilizes IDEA forms as one of the many ways to analyze the happenings and development of professors in the class rooms, something Kelley said is not lost with the shortened form.
“We will use whatever data the university provides us,” he said. “The IDEA evaluations are just a small part of what we do here.”
Stats and data aside, the evaluations ultimately effect those inside the classrooms the most.
English professor Emily Haddad said the shorter form is more preferable from an in-class standpoint.
“I think the long form is kind of long and the shorter form will be beneficial in taking time away from class and could help prevent fatigue as they fill out dozens of these throughout their career at USD.”
Hackemer said talks with constituents and Academic Affairs will continue throughout the remainder of the semester, with a possible change in evaluation form coming at the start of the fall semester.