New system implemented for professor evaluations

By Buddy Jackson.

The end of the semester approaches and that means it is time to evaluate the professors. Everyone has noticed that there have been mass emails sent out by Joe Dehart guiding us through the process of evaluations for this semester. The new system that has been put in place should be more convenient and less costly on DMACC as a whole.

“A LEAN process was conducted to look at making this process more efficient and save time and money,” said Dehart. “We chose Smartevals because we had piloted with them a few years ago and found their product to be among the better out there.” This system was conducted in the hope of transitioning to the online survey, which allows students a voice in all aspects of DMACC life.

The survey asks about classes and services on campus.  These are helpful in compiling the opinion of DMACC students as a whole. However, they are very generic. In some cases the surveys do not apply to certain professors and their corresponding fields.

Marc Dickinson, an English and Literature professor said, “I wish it was more tailored to the field you’re in instead of it being so general.”

This has been a common statement from most of the professors.

Will this type of survey get the desired impact that DMACC is looking for or will it be too general? One can see that there is a bit of skepticism on how accurate the evaluations will be and how they will impact the student body of DMACC.

There have been discussions in classes about the response levels upon students that complete the survey and those that have not. Rob Reynolds, a Math instructor, said, “A decline in response is possible, but instructors can see how many students have completed the survey and encourage students who have not to do so.”

So what can be done to up the response numbers? Reynolds said “The survey system allows me to send email reminders to students to complete the survey while the student’s names remain anonymous.”

When asked about the percentage of students so far who have taken the survey Dehart said. “Right now we are setting at about a 33% response rate and for where we are at to-date that is good. I expect final response rates to be above 50%.”

Lance Kopacek, a 19 year old AA major from Urbandale said, “It was optional so I figure I have better things to do during finals week.” Kopacek said that he will be doing the evaluations, but does not have time, at this point, to do them.

One wonders if there is a large number of negative responses towards professors who have not been the best teacher they can be. Most students are more inclined to do their evaluations until the end of finals, due to a fear of retribution from a professor.

The great thing about online surveys, rather than scantrons, is that they are completely anonymous in every way. The problem with scantrons is with the comments portion and professors could recognize handwriting and that could reflect negatively on students’ honesty, whereas the new online system has typed up comments.

Dehart comes back with a very good statement, “There are always complaints, but for the most part there haven’t been very many.”

There are some students that are very happy to be doing the evaluations. Samantha Moss, an 18-year-old undecided student from Grimes, said, “I like my professors so it will prompt me to do the evaluations.”

There are some things that students would like to see on a grander scale for these types of evaluations. Moss states that, “Facebook alerts would be a helpful way to get the word out about them. Mentioning in class is good but the Facebook alerts would be good.”

Something to keep in mind is that these evaluations aren’t going away for quite some time and completing these surveys will better enhance the DMACC experience.

Dehart said “If, after several years, we have not gotten the insights we expect and the costs haven’t been reduced, you bet we would consider something else. However, I don’t see paper and pencil surveys coming back.”

The biggest response on the evaluations is the DMACC experience and hearing what type of experience students are having on campus. The feeling that one gets from all our professors, as well as Joe Dehart, is this: “Online or paper, we want students to have the opportunity to evaluate their experiences at DMACC, both in and out of the classroom, and use this information to improve their experiences.”

So in essence these evaluations are put in place to help the now and future students of DMACC. Remember that you as students have a voice at DMACC.


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