Sept 2016 Advocate: Letter to the Advocate


District’s proposal to increase student evaluations is impractical

As a part of current contract negotiations, the District is proposing that student evaluations of faculty be given to every professor, in every class, each semester.  This proposal is ludicrous for many reasons.  Although this proposal may be well intended, it would be so labor intensive that it is unworthy of serious consideration.

To begin with, let us compare what is currently done with what is proposed.  Currently, one class is assessed on each professor every three years.  This proposal would require all classes to be assessed.  Since a full-time professor teaches 30, three-unit class in a 3-year period, this would result in increasing the work load needed for these student evaluations by 29 times.

Now, who would be affected by this increased evaluation process?  Firstly, the students would be affected.  This would guarantee that students would lose at least a half-hour of instruction in every one of their classes.  Students are already distracted by other surveys currently given out routinely by the Office of Planning, Research, and Institutional Effectiveness.

Who would administer these evaluations?  It would fall on the faculty to give these to all of the classes taught in their department.  How much time would this add to a professor’s work week?
Who would score these assessments?  This would fall on the Office of Planning, Research, and Institutional Effectiveness.  How much work would this be for every student, in every class, for the whole district, every semester?  Maybe the district’s Human Resources Department could volunteer to do this task?

Who will interpret the results of these assessments and communicate the results?  Will the Deans of each division need to interpret these findings (5 classes for each professor, each semester) and schedule individual meeting times with faculty to go over them?  Will the Deans need to write a report, each semester, to be submitted to the District summarizing how well their division is doing overall and break it down by departments?   How much time would this all take?

Before embarking on a course of action that would involve increasing the workload for a task by a factor of 29, the consequences for each member in a system of students and educators needs to be carefully considered.  More frequent student evaluations may bring a small increase in insight over what is currently being done, or it may not.  However, the cost of this proposal, to everyone, is so great that it should not be considered.  There is an old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The faculty member who sent us this letter requested that their name be withheld from publication