Faculty Senate to gather feedback on SmartEvals

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    Faculty Senate members will gather feedback on whether to approve a new online evaluation software, Senate Chair Dan Williams said Thursday afternoon at the Faculty Senate’s first meeting of the semester.

    Williams said senators will meet with other university faculty over the course of the next month to review the possible implementation of SmartEvals, a faculty evaluation software that is being piloted for campus-wide use this spring. SmartEvals would replace Class Climate which was used by some departments last semester.

    Williams said he expected the senate to vote on the issue during its next meeting in March. But even if it did pass, it likely would not go into effect until next spring.

    The move from in-class, paper evaluations to an online format was imminent and had been discussed in the past, Williams said. Faculty just had to find the right program.

    “Most faculty are aware of [the move to an online format] and know change is coming,” Williams said. “So right now it’s just a matter of trying to figure out the best possible software program, and SmartEvals is being recommended.”

    One way in which SmartEvals differed from paper evaluations would be the areas in which professors are evaluated.

    University Evaluation Committee Chair Judy Groulx said the SmartEvals software would include a new teacher evaluation document and would be broken down into five categories: student information, class work, classroom interaction, course organization and the overall learning experience. She said the questions likely would be formatted on a four-point Likert scale and that students would be able to access the evaluations from their mobile phones.

    Groulx said a faculty committee formed last August to review the evaluation document.

    Senate Past Chair Dianna McFarland said one concern faculty kept in mind regarding online evaluation systems was protecting the anonymity of each student.

    Assistant Director of the Office of Institutional Research Tanisha Arrington said the SmartEvals software assured students of confidentiality.

    Last semester, 40 percent of departments went to the online format and, according to the university Office of Institutional Research, 71 percent of students responded to the surveys.