As each semester comes to a close, students are encouraged to fill out a Student Assessment of Instruction, which allows feedback to be given to the instructors in order to better prepare them for upcoming classes.
According to Leigh Lewis, the assistant director of assessment at ETSU, the national average of completed, online faculty evaluations lies between 30 and 35 percent.
ETSU lies just above the national rate in the fall, with 40 percent of evaluations being completed. However, the rate for the spring falls to 33 percent, and just 24 percent are completed in the summer. The average for the three cycles sits at a bit more than 32 percent.
The SAIs are used by instructors to evaluate their teaching methods, the course and to better understand what students enjoyed — and disliked — about a class.
“Improvements to the learning environment are very important to faculty, staff and administrators at ETSU, and they should be important to students as well,” Lewis said. “Feedback from SAIs helps identify ways that faculty members can improve the course, their teaching methods and their general communications and interactions with students.”
Although students log in using their specific university username and password, all SAI results are anonymous.
The evaluations are reviewed by the faculty member, their department chair and the college dean. In certain cases, the results can also be viewed by the provost and president.
SAIs are taken seriously by each faculty member and department, as the evaluations are looked at when determining promotions and positions within the university.
The SAIs are open for 21 days in order to give students sufficient time to evaluate each professor, without adding a strenuous load to already busy students.
SAIs each consist of 14 multiple choice questions and five open-ended questions. Each class has a different SAI to complete, and they are accessible via computer or mobile devices.
When the SAIs are announced, the university states that confidentiality is a priority, but that professors may be able to distinguish the students they have had in class all semester based upon their responses.
ETSU will send an email before the SAIs are open and when they open. Students will receive periodic reminders until they are completed by the student or the deadline arrives.
The SAIs for this semester will open for students in mid-November and are due before finals week.
“I would like to encourage students to complete SAIs,” Lewis said. “They are very important to ETSU and we would like to see an increase in response rates.”