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Faculty & Course Feedback

Contact

Provost/Dean of the Faculty

College Hall
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
 

Phone: 413-585-3005

For additional questions, please contact Hayley Spizz.

For technical issues, please contact the User Support Center (x4487).

For student information about this process, please contact the Dean of the College (x4900).

Course Feedback Questionnaire

Students enrolled in Smith College courses complete the course feedback questionnaire at the end of each semester. 

In December 2015, the provost formed a committee to review the teaching evaluation, which had been in place since fall 2011. The committee’s recommendations and revised questionnaire were piloted in more than 80 classes in fall 2017 and were implemented in most classes in spring 2018 (faculty were given the option to opt out). The full implementation of the new questionnaire begins in fall 2018. The new questionnaire has been designed to mitigate against bias and to elicit specific and useful information from students.

Instructors now have the option of creating two custom questions, answers to which will be shared only with instructors. Institutional Research and the Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning have prepared examples of custom questions from Smith College faculty members and can provide guidance on best practices. Stanford University also has an online resource on how to write questions.

Note: Currently responses to question 7 are not being shared with students. 

Upon the suggestion of students, the new questionnaire includes a question intended to elicit data to assist them in course selection decisions. Question 7 states: “What would you like to say about this course to a student who is considering taking it in the future? Please include strategies you would recommend to a student who is considering taking it in the future.”

The intent is to create a question 7 secure database to be made available to Smith students (not chairs and directors, the Committee on Tenure and Promotion, or the Office of the Provost). Additional feedback is being gathered regarding the database and related procedures. The current plan is for instructors to have the opportunity to review their own question 7 data and flag any inappropriate responses for review and possible redaction by the director of the Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning and the associate dean of the faculty/dean for academic development, both of whom are outside of the employment evaluation process. Instructors will also have the opportunity to opt out of sharing their question 7 data each semester.

Note: The Holistic Assessment of Teaching Working Group (HAT) was appointed in January 2018, and is tasked with proposing for consideration a new system for determining teaching merit by May 2019. 

In the meantime the provost's office will continue to use for merit the two close-ended questions from the former course evaluation form (question 4: The instructor created an effective learning environment; question 5: The course contributed significantly to my education). These two items represent one part of a faculty member's overall teaching merit score each year. Other factors contributing to merit include such things as advising load, attendance at teaching workshops, and supervising special studies and honors theses. The provost's office considered replacing the Q4 and Q5 items with questions from the new teaching feedback form. However, until the HAT group offers its recommendation, the provost's office will maintain consistency and continue to use the original Q4 and Q5 items as a part of faculty teaching merit.

The following categories of courses are not included: special studies, honors courses, courses with five or fewer Smith students, and five-college courses.

Please review the Instructions for Accessing Course Feedback Reports.

Department chairs and program directors, the Committee on Tenure and Promotion, and the Office of the Provost have access to faculty members’ course feedback reports, but the information is not otherwise disseminated. These individuals will not have access to student-directed comments (question 7) or custom question responses.

For access to course evaluation reports prior to fall 2018, please contact Hayley Spizz in the Office of the Provost (hspizz@smith.edu).


Course Feedback Timeline

The course feedback questionnaire is available to students online during a three-week period at the end of the semester. Faculty have the opportunity to submit custom questions in advance. Faculty gain access to reports following the deadline for submission of grades.

Timeline for Spring 2019

April 22–29, 2019 Faculty may submit custom questions (using a direct link sent via email).
May 2, 2019 Students receive email with direct link to complete course feedback questionnaires.
May 12, 2019 Access to course feedback questionnaire closes for students.
May 22, 2019 Faculty gain access to course feedback reports (using a direct link sent via email or the Smith Portal). (Note: Access is blocked for those faculty who have not submitted all grades. Once the grades have been submitted, the block will be removed as soon as possible.)

Resources

Vanderbilt University offers guidelines for interpreting student feedback. Faculty may also contact Al Rudnitsky, professor of education and child study and Sherrerd teaching mentor, or Floyd Cheung, director of the Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning.