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Interim Report on Task Force Progress

July 23, 2014

 

To:          President Stephen M. Jordan

 

From:      Luis Torres and Jim Simmons
               Co-Chairs, Student Ratings of Instruction Task Force

 

Re:         Interim Report on Task Force Progress

 

This is a brief update on the Student Ratings of Instruction Task Force you appointed in Fall 2014.  As you will recall, you met with the SRI Task Force on October 20, 2013 and charged us with making recommendations concerning the use of student evaluations, especially student comments, in the faculty review process.  The nature of your charge was broad, in that you stated that there were no restrictions on our recommendations.

 

The 15-person Task Force met periodically since that charge and discussed a large number of topics.  Various members of the Task Force contributed expertise in terms of analyzing the literature, research on practices at other colleges and universities, and analyses of statistical procedures, among other reviews.

 

While we have not yet completed our major assignment, the Task Force is forwarding two proposals to you, with the recommendation that they be implemented as soon as possible:

 

·         The Task Force discussed the issue of possible bias in student evaluations, including in student comments, and we created a subcommittee to study such bias.  We think this serious issue warrants the following statement, concerning possible bias in student ratings of instruction, to be further studied and vetted for possible inclusion in the Handbook for Professional Personnel, preferably in Section V.D.1, as a new section “b,” immediately following section “a,” which calls for maintaining the strictest confidence by all reviewers at all levels of review.  Depending on the final outcome of the SRI Task Force’s initial charge, realizing the possible need for further revision of the following statement, we recommend a statement such as the following:

 

“Care should be taken and sensitivity should be used when evaluating both the numerical SRIs and the subjective student comments (to the extent that they may be used)that may be related, explicitly or implicitly, to personal characteristics of faculty members.  To the maximum extent possible, overt or subtle statements or other signs of racism, sexism, ageism, heterosexism, cisgenderism, or xenophobia should be completely ignored.  In reviewing numerical SRIs, care should be taken to ignore patterns that may emerge regarding scores for ‘Faculty Contribution to the Course’ which may reflect personal bias.  Examples include SRI scores that appear lower (or higher) than other criteria of faculty evaluation might suggest (e.g., peer observations, faculty narrative, or supplemental materials supplied by students such as letters of appreciation).  In reviewing subjective student comments, appropriate sensitivity should be maintained when observing even the slightest hint of bias about any personal characteristics of faculty members, as opposed to substantive comments that relate directly to ‘Course as a Whole’ and ‘Faculty Contribution to the Course.’”

 

·         The Task Force recommends that all methods of student ratings of instruction at MSU Denver, whether classes are traditional classroom, Online courses, Hybrid courses, extended campus courses, etc., be identical:

 

  • All evaluations should use the identical instrument;
  •  All evaluations should be conducted Online only;
  • All evaluations should show the SRI number for “Course as a Whole” and “Faculty Contribution to the Course” given by the students in a way that connects those numbers with written student comments (to the extent that they may be used)

 

Our Task Force had set a self-imposed deadline of April 1, 2014 to complete our work and provide you with our recommendations.  However, we were unable to complete discussions and recommendations concerning various issues by this deadline, other than the ones given above.  We therefore wish to inform you that we are willing to continue our work through the Fall semester 2014.  We recognize that continuation of our work means we are unable to offer final recommendations which can be reviewed by appropriate reviewers in time for inclusion in the Handbook for Professional Personnel for implementation beginning Fall of 2014, but we believe we can offer recommendations in due time.

 

We look forward to hearing from you about this matter.

 

cc:          

Layton Curl, Ph.D.
Joan Foster, Ph.D.
Debora Gilliard, Ph.D.
Winston Grady-Willis, Ph.D.
Madison Holloway, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Kleinfeld, Ph.D.
Kishore Kulkarni, Ph.D.
Ruth Ann Nyhus, Ph.D.
Professor Lisa Ortiz
David Ruch, Ph.D.
Sheila Rucki, Ph.D.
Jane Chapman Vigil, Ph.D.
Peter Vigil, Ph.D.


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