Discussions continue nationally and locally on teaching evaluations

On March 1, 2019, The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) released its report investigating complaints of misuse and inappropriate interpretation of the scores on student evaluations of teaching.

The report points out that many factors figure in students’ responses, some of which have nothing to do with quality of teaching: class size, time of day, subject, whether the class is core or elective, and so on. There statistics also reveal obvious equity and human rights implications. Along with faculty organizations abroad, faculty associations in Ontario have reported a rise in the incidence of harassing comments that coincide with the use of online evaluations.

The report recommends unequivocally that these evaluations are only suitable for informing faculty about students’ understanding of their learning experience. They are not equitable and not appropriate for determining pay, renewal, tenure, permanency or promotion. If they are used at all in teaching evaluation, they should be used as one tool in a bigger toolkit.

The Joint Committee for the Management of the Agreement will be meeting with Nancy Turner, Director, Teaching and Learning Enhancement, to learn more about the new tool for student evaluation of teaching currently being piloted around campus. In addition to learning how the pilot is going, we expect to hear what response the team around evaluations have to the recent Ryerson decision, as well as concerns identified in the OCUFA report. We will report the results of this discussion to you.