October 2017 Advocate: Results from faculty observation forms survey


Results from faculty observation forms survey

By Leigh Anne Shaw, District Academic Senate President

n Fall 2016 and Spring 2017, the District Academic Senate polled faculty and supervisors for feedback on the evaluation forms that were made part of the evaluation process by faculty ratification in 2014. This historic change to our evaluation process, especially to the observation form, was long-desired and welcomed, and the hard work on the part of the Performance Evaluation Task Force (PETF) is to be roundly commended. Three years on, faculty have had a chance to really work with the forms and have shared suggestions for their inevitable improvement. The results of that poll are available at “Reponses to Survey of Evaluation Forms” on the District Academic Senate web site.

In the responses, the need for sizable boxes on the forms, as well as ability to save and email easily from both Mac and PC, shot to the top as the biggest issues. However, there were other points that were quite illuminating. Several patterns of response to the three questions emerged, among others:

  • Further need for clarity over what rating system terms mean, namely “meets” vs. “exceeds” expectations
  • Difficulty in applying the A-B-C-D-E grading system to categories that do not seem appropriate for it (i.e. yes/no questions), and the punitive fallout that can result from inaccurate grade assignment
  • A desire to reduce redundancy and overlapping categories, and to further streamline and simplify the form, eliminate wordiness, and review the choice to separate out the Kinesiology-only questions
  • Concerns with physical length and linear nature of the forms, especially as several different forms are embedded into one document, and the difficulty in locating and printing the sections one needs for a given observation
  • Comments that the form lends itself to evaluating traditional classroom and online teaching, which may have lower learning impact than some transformative teaching methods (i.e. flipped learning); suggestions to modify the form to better evaluate new pedagogies as well as librarian work and clinical settings
  • Appreciation that the form now has an option for professional development that is triggered upon a grade lower than “meets expectations”

A number of respondents gave very specific (section by section) feedback while stating that they had ideas for improvement that they would very much like to share; this clearly shows the need for another task force to embark upon the refinement of this important tool. The work of this task force would not be even remotely as complex as that of the PETF; the hardest work has been admirably completed, and what is greatly needed now is the refinement of the language and review of the structure of the forms. The District Academic Senate hereby offers to jointly lead this effort with the AFT to ensure that faculty have an observation and evaluation tool that truly aids their work while revealing the excellent teaching that happens throughout our District.