02 September 2008

Transparency and Course Evaluation

As higher education responds to calls for accountability, the Internet supports the effort. Increasingly, institutions use web sites to display data, not just periodic reports for accreditation. For a close-up look at a Colorado school's course evaluations, read on.

The University of Colorado at Boulder maintains a web view of students' ratings of courses and instructors. From the web site of the Office of Planning, Budget, and Analysis anyone can check on results of the Faculty Course Questionnaire [click on the top link in the main window: FCQ results]. On the search page, scroll down for options of most interest to outsiders (including the option of display in a table in the browser as opposed to an EXCEL file).

When results appear on screen, you can click on a recurring link for the Guide to Interpretation. This text is directly from the Guide:

Information from FCQs is used by
  • students for selecting courses and instructors,
  • instructors for improving their teaching, and
  • deans and department chairs for promotion, tenure, salary, and course-assignment decisions.

Yes, the results really are used for these things!

Remember that several factors in addition to quality of instruction may influence the ratings. These include department, class size, class level, and whether the class is required or an elective.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

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