Task Force to Assess the Course Evaluation Form

Submitted by: Clifton Sutton, Chair
Task Force Members: Cynthia Beck, Lawrence Butler, Kimberly Eby, Kris Smith, Clifton Sutton, Mary Williams

The task force was put into place somewhat late during the Fall 2007 semester. We met four times during the Spring 2008 semester, and also used e-mail to perform portions of our work. We informed ourselves by reviewing the history of how the currently used evaluation form was developed and adopted, by talking with our colleagues, by having discussions with a student focus group (to which representatives of Student Government were included among those invited), and by studying some data provided by IRR. This report should be considered to be an intermediate progress report since we have not yet been dismissed and we plan to complete our work during the 2008-2009 academic year.

To summarize our beliefs at the present time, everyone on the task force thinks that the course evaluation form currently in use can benefit from some changes. Currently, we are focusing on two major types of changes.
  1. Modify the wording of some of the existing items, delete some of the exisiting items, and possibly add a small number of new items. (It is hoped that such modifications will make the intended meaning of the items on the form clearer, and that the modifed instrument will be a better way to gain useful information about course and instructor quality. The home page of the Task Force's web site ( link: http://mason.gmu.edu/~csutton/TF.html ) has a link to a web page which shows some of the changes we are currently considering.)
  2. Creating more than one version of the course evaluation form (e.g., there could be a version for laboratory courses, a version for seminar courses and small classes in which student participation plays a key role, and a version for lecture classes in which student participation does not play a key role).
We welcome feedback from the members of the Faculty Senate, other faculty, students, and administrators. E-mail may be sent to Clifton Sutton ( address: csutton@gmu.edu ). During the next academic year we plan to finalize a set of suggested changes to the currently used evaluation form.

To conclude this report, here are a few nuggets of information that we uncovered through our discussions with students and faculty.