Students are receiving incentives from both TCU and some individual teachers in exchange for eSPOT (Student Perception of Teaching) participation.
The eSPOT program is an electronic survey system designed to help streamline teacher evaluations by students.
According to a TCU email, students who complete their eSPOTs will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win “several” 100 dollar gift cards and daily drawings to win 10 dollar gift cards to Barnes & Noble, McAlister’s or Smoothie King.
Some teachers are providing further incentives for students to complete their eSPOTs by offering extra credit if certain percentages of the class complete the class’ eSPOT.
“Teachers want higher rates of students completing their eSPOTs so that teacher’s have statistically accurate data when teacher’s are evaluated for promotion or tenure” said theater professor, Alan Shorter.
Some professors who give extra credit for completing eSPOTs said they do it for the betterment of the class for future students.
Economics professor, John Harvey, said he has been able to better structure his course around student’s learning styles through providing a graded incentive for students to complete their eSPOTs.
“I used to get below 50 percent before I gave an incentive. Now I have close to 100 percent,” Harvey said.
TCU Provost Nowell Donovan said there are no set rules for incentivizing eSPOT participation. However, he said “the idea of giving some sort of extra credit for taking eSPOTs is something that I would need a great deal of convincing about before I sanctioned it.”
The Provost is not the only teacher against incentivizing eSPOTs.
“Incentivizing eSPOTs is bribery,” Shorter said.
“There used to be close to 100 percent participation when the written SPOT was handed out in classes in 2012,” Shorter said.
The written SPOT was replaced by the eSPOT in 2012 for the purpose of speeding up the delivery of evaluations from students to teachers. However, it unintentionally dropped the average number of participants down about 20 percent, according to the TCU Institutional Research Center.
Here is a graph showing the trends from SPOT to eSPOT.
“I wouldn’t complete my eSPOTs unless I had reason to do so, like extra credit or something” said first-year geology major Drew Kirchner.
Business professor Danyelle Keenan said most of her student’s won’t do eSPOTs unless she gives some kind of extra credit incentive.
Students are communicating on the social media site “Yik Yak” to get classmates to fill out their eSPOTs for extra credit.
Donovan said it will be up to teachers to judge when to use incentives until the University Evaluation Committee comes to a final decision on the issue of graded incentives.
The eSPOTs for this semester close Friday at 11:59 p.m.