Merits of online evaluations of NIU faculty dissected
DeKALB – Whether online instructor evaluations are offered to students may be up to individual academic departments at Northern Illinois University if a measure is approved for the fall.
Members of the University Council considered the matter Wednesday at their last meeting before the start of the fall semester.
Alan Rosenbaum, executive secretary of the University Council, said evaluations of instructor effectiveness filled out by students are considered in merit, tenure and promotions.
He said members of the Faculty Senate are concerned that not enough students are filling out the online surveys and promotions were based on the opinions of a few.
“Three colleges are now requiring faculty to do online evaluations,” he said. “The [Faculty] Senate did not want the deans of each college to require it.”
He said about 15 percent to 20 percent of a faculty member’s students participate in the online surveys, while 60 percent to 70 percent of students participate in written evaluations distributed in class.
“[The Academic Affairs Committee] essentially found that online evaluations can be done effectively, but we have to do something to increase response rates,” Rosenbaum said.
Online evaluations started about a year or two ago, Rosenbaum said, and departments either use online evaluations or written evaluations, not both.
The Academic Affairs Committee recommended that the use of online evaluations be determined at the academic department level.
“The faculty should have a say in how faculty evaluations should be done,” he said.
Rosenbaum clarified that immediate action was not needed because evaluations have been completed for this year.
The University Council voted Wednesday to send the recommendation to the council’s Academic Policy Committee for consideration when the council reconvenes in the fall.
NIU President John Peters also gave a report Wednesday outlining summer construction projects and state aid funding proposals.
He noted campus-improvement projects to be completed this summer, which include a campus recreation project north of the Convocation Center, landscape improvements, pedestrian walk improvements, painting and several parking projects.
Peters also pointed out that fiscal 2013 general revenue funds from the state – which total about $100 million of the university’s $438 million budget – are still up in the air.
Some state legislators proposed a flat budget for higher education, while others want to reduce the general revenue base by 6.14 percent – a cut university officials already are preparing to face.
“One hundred million dollars in state revenue is extremely important to the university,” Peters said.
The state still owes the university $41 million for this year, which has to be paid by Dec. 31.