The Teaching Excellence and Policy Committee (TEP) of UNB held four town halls last month in both Saint John and Fredericton looking for input from students, faculty and other community members on proposed changes to the Student Opinion Surveys that are circulated at the end of each term.
The sessions were from Feb. 18 to Feb. 21 in various locations around the two campuses, some open to the entire community, others saved solely for students. The goal was to review what, according to the TEP is “one of the most important resources we have available on our campuses to assess and support excellence in teaching.” The Committee has been working on the Student Opinion Surveys since 2007; during the 2011-2012 academic year, the surveys underwent an initial review.
The feedback given at these sessions was used to mould the survey into a new framework, which, according to the committee, would “be customizable, include questions which clearly address important aspects of the instructor’s skill set (as opposed to aspects of the course) and allow for open-ended questions with written responses.”
This framework was reviewed at the town halls last month. Those in attendance were presented with the new survey’s potential structure, consisting of up to 20 questions divided into three groups: University-wide, Faculty/Department-chosen and Instructor-chosen. This would allow for course specification.
The “University-wide” group would consist of ten mandatory questions in total: six rating questions measured based on the familiar “strongly-agree to strongly disagree” scale and four open-ended ones. Only the open-ended questions would be released to the instructor. The rest would go to the official file.
Group two, the “Faculty/Department-chosen” set, would be made up of only four rating questions. As these are chosen by the course’s specific department, they are optional and only given if the faculty would like feedback on their work specifically.
The final set, the “Instructor-chosen” questions, are also optional. These six rating-type questions will be released to the instructor only, giving them personal feedback if they so wish.
The ten mandatory questions in group one are outlined in the Midstream consultation released by TEP, as well as a list of 25 questions to choose from for the two optional sections of the survey.
Feedback offered so far has been positive and an online version of the survey has been deemed more practical than the paper sets, but “issues of response rates would need to be addressed,” says the TEP in their consultation.
Even though the town halls have finished, the Committee is still looking for more feedback.
“Effective redesign of the [Student Opinion Surveys] can only be achieved through efforts from the entire UNB community. While [the committee is] ready to continue to facilitate the process, [they] cannot make progress without feedback from instructors and students,” they say.
For those interested in reviewing the new survey framework, you can view both the original consultation and the condensed version at www.unb.ca/cetl.
All feedback can be submitted by emailing the committee at email@example.com.
Have your say on Student Opinion Surveys at firstname.lastname@example.org!
What would your ideal survey look like?
by Madam R. Hooch
1. On a scale from 1-10, how do you rate your instructor (with 1 being “my professor is a Dementor that sucks all the happiness out of my life” and 10 being “I love this person with every fiber of my being and I think he/she deserves a designated parking space within a 2 minute walk of his/her office and an unlimited supply of non-UNBSJ toilet paper).
2. Which colours look best on your professor?
b. earth tones.
c. vibrant ones.
e. My professor always looks fabulous in anything.
f. I’m just happy if my prof has more than one outfit and looks/smells relatively clean.
3. Describe your interactions with your professor:
a. I posted a $100 bond that I will not hand in half-assed work.
b. I routinely bring my professor coffee and other treats.
c. I avoid any interaction with my prof in or outside of class. I carry mace.
4. How accessible is your professor?
c. I’ve seen unicorns more often.
5. The professor’s teaching style is closest to:
a. Dr. Phil
b. Dr. Love
c. Dr. Who
d. Dr. Evil
e. Dr. Seuss
6. How helpful is the course syllabus?
a. very helpful.
c. pretty sure it’s written in Klingon
d. I wouldn’t know. I never look at it. I just pester my professor and classmates with questions because I am too dang lazy to consult the paper or electronic copies.
7. How involved are you in Facebook during class time?
a. It’s my major.
b. I have 700 friends but no class notes.
c. I went down that road but reformed my ways.
d. I avoid it like the plague and make the Dean’s List.
8. How involved are you in campus life?
c. I just complain but don’t make any positive effort to work for change
9. How important is this course to your degree program?
c. I don’t have a career plan yet but I enjoy the course.
d. I am only here because the dating pool is better than at the local bars and clubs.