Course Evaluations: Detailed Background
- In response to a request from the Student Senators Council (SSC), the Faculty-Student Relations Committee of the Faculty Senators Council (FSC) discussed developing a University-wide system of administering course evaluations and publicizing the results.
- The FSC issued a unanimous resolution recommending (a) “that all NYU schools be encouraged to conduct end-of-semester evaluations of all undergraduate and graduate classes and instructors, either on paper or online,” and (b) “that this information be available to students on a familiar NYU website like Albert.”
- In response to the FSC’s resolution, the Provost charged the Undergraduate Academic Affairs Committee (UAAC) with taking up course evaluations, since that committee had previously issued two advisories on this topic, in 2004 and 2006. The UAAC took a broad approach, recognizing that the FSC’s recommendation that survey data be posted online could not be addressed without also addressing the variety of questions and platforms for administering them.
- The UAAC issued its third advisory on student course evaluations, in which it made a number of recommendations--e.g.:
- numerical scales--e.g., 1 (low) to 5 (high)--should be uniform across all schools;
- there should be no blanket “carve-outs” for any school or program; and
- carve-outs should be functional and limited to (a) small classes, or classes in which, by their nature, anonymity is not possible; and (b) first-time classes, at the instructor’s discretion.
- For all other courses, average course evaluation scores should be available online to all students. Narrative comments should be available only to (a) the instructor of the course, (b) the relevant department chair and Director of Undergraduate Studies; and (c) where applicable, the chair of the relevant departmental/school promotion and tenure committee.
- Some portion of the questions on the evaluations should be the same across the undergraduate schools. School and/or course-specific questions can be added to the common questions. A subcommittee of experts in evaluation and survey design should be created to develop a set of common questions. Ideally, there would be a single University-wide questionnaire, with one or more sections that can be customized as necessary by individual schools.
- The UAAC’s advisory was accepted by the Provost.
- The UAAC’s advisory was endorsed by the Undergraduate Deans.
- Per the UAAC’s recommendation, a subcommittee of faculty with expertise in course evaluations and survey design was convened. The members of the subcommittee are Melody Cherny (Steinhardt), Jennifer Jennings (FAS), Diana Karafin (Assessment and Evaluation), Vicki Morwitz (Stern), Cybele Raver (Vice Provost/Steinhardt), and Greg Wolniak (Steinhardt), with Matthew Santirocco (Senior Vice Provost/FAS) serving as chair. The group worked over the summer to develop a set of seven common qualitative questions.
- NYU IT identified a new SIS-based online course evaluation platform, which has been successfully used at Duke.
- NYU Shanghai and the School of Global Public Health agreed to pilot this tool in fall 2015.
- NYU IT also identified a new platform for reporting data, Tableau.
- The proposed questions were approved (with some modifications) by the Undergraduate Deans. The UAAC subcommittee then turned to developing guidelines for implementing the new questions and platform University-wide.
- The proposed set of questions was endorsed by the Senate Academic Affairs Committee (SAAC), which includes members of both Faculty Senators Councils (T-FSC and C-FSC), the Deans Council, and the SSC.
FALL 2015-SPRING 2016
- The new course evaluation platform was piloted at NYU Shanghai, School of Global Public Health, Silver School of Social Work, and NYU Abu Dhabi using the common questions approved by the Undergraduate Deans and the SAAC.
- The Project Team completed technical enhancements based on school-identified requirements (e.g. mobile-functionality, instructor access to standard reports, etc.), and partnered with PSO to develop UDW+ reporting solution to replace Tableau.
- Project timeline developed and implementation continued with College of Arts & Science and Global Programs.