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A Pain in the Assessment? Teaching Evaluations and the Tenure Track

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  • Teaching assessment can be a pain. But it can also be an opportunity. This poster describes my experience with student course evaluations and the development of a supplemental assessment tool. I teach two courses required for the college’s general education curriculum: Western Civilization and the Environment, and Natural Resources in American History. Enrollment for both courses consists primarily of freshmen and sophomores, and averages two hundred and fifty students per academic year. My position is tenure-track Instructor, with an eighty percent teaching allocation. Thus, teaching evaluations are a particularly important component of my promotion and tenure review. Over the last five academic years, my evaluations have ranged from an overall mean of 3.0 to 4.1, averaging 3.8, on a scale from one to five with five being most positive. While some may perceive these numbers as acceptable, given that these are large required courses, others may feel that these are not high scores. There is little opportunity for comparison because teaching evaluation scores for other faculty are available only during the promotion and tenure process when faculty provide documentation for departmental review and comment. Nor are comparative numbers for other general education courses, or large lecture courses, available. My department Chair suggested that I collect additional data to address the overall mean of my evaluations. This would be included in my promotion and tenure review documentation and demonstrate awareness of and attention to assessment. I analyzed the results of the college surveys over eight semesters, spring 2002 to fall 2005. I found that the questions receiving the lowest mean scores addressed motivation (mean 3.4), fairness of tests and assignments (mean 3.4), and fairness of grading (mean 3.3).
  • Keywords: teaching assessment, course evaluations, tenure track
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  • Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA
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