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.
We welcome feedback from the members of the Faculty Senate, other faculty, students, and administrators.
E-mail may be sent to Clifton Sutton ( address: firstname.lastname@example.org ). During the next academic year we plan
to finalize a set of suggested changes to the currently used evaluation form.
- 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
http://mason.gmu.edu/~csutton/TF.html ) has a link to a web page which shows some of the
changes we are currently considering.)
- 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).
To conclude this report, here are a few nuggets of information that we uncovered through our discussions
with students and faculty.
- Some students (perhaps a lot of them) don't consider the course evaluations to be very important since they
believe that the university's administration doesn't attach a lot of importance to them.
- Many members of the faculty believe that the administration places too much importance on the outcome
of the student evaluation of teaching and courses, and that other information should also be adequately considered
when teaching is judged during the annual review of the faculty.
- Online student evaluation of courses and teaching is being seriously considered by the administration.
(A pilot study is being conducted this semester, and a large-scale switch to online evaluation could occur
as soon as the next academic year.) An online evaluation process will make it easier to accommodate using
different versions of the evaluation form for different types of classes.