Provost creates committee for online course evaluation participation

March 28, 2008

Last week, the Provost’s Advisory Committee for Course Evaluations, a committee seeking to increase student participation in evaluations, met for the first time.

The committee was implemented in order to “provide guidance for policy, implementation, and analytic issues regarding on-line course evaluations,” as the draft charge explains on the website.

The committee will recommend to Provost Marty Krauss different ways to increase online course evaluation participation. It also will address security and access issues, the duration of the evaluation period, and other policy issues that might arise in the future. It was specifically created in order to increase publicity and participation.

The committee consists of faculty, students, and staff, who will meet monthly and serve for three semesters.

East Quad Senator Tamar Ariel ’10 and Class of 2010 Senator Julie Rapp, and graduate student Molly DeMarco serve on the committee. Professors Jackie Jones (HIST), Brenda Anderson (Heller, IBS), Derek Isaacowitz (PSYC), John Plotz (ENG), Joan Press (BIOL), and Jonathan Unglaub (FA) and staff members Lori Dembowitz, Mark Hewitt, Janet Hill, Rick Silberman, and Michaele Whelan make up the rest of the committee.

Ariel wrote in her project report on the Union website, “I attended the first meeting of the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Course Evaluations. We brainstormed manners in which the evaluations can be bettered publicized and incentives to push students to fulfill them. We also discussed the various possible consequences of not filling them out.”

The committee is still very new, having met only once, but has already has suggested several ideas for increasing student participation in evaluations.

Rapp said, “I suggested using Facebook as a means of publicity for the evaluations, as well as putting a link to the evaluations on some common Brandeis sites like LATTE or SAGE. The link was an idea from the Class of 2009 Senator Julia Sferlazzo.”

Danielle Gurr ’11 was interested in the committee’s ideas. “I know it’s always helpful when there is a reminder on Facebook for these type of events. I also know that in the past professors have offered extra credit for participating, and to me, both are great examples of ways to incite student participation.”

Elizabeth Setren ’10 had other suggestions for increasing student participation in online evaluations. “Stressing that it is a tool to evaluate your own classes is important. If you want to use evaluations for yourself, then it is an incentive for you to evaluate classes for others. When they give prizes, it helps create incentives for students.”

She added, “another way is if you make it a requirement, for example, in order to see your grades, then you have to fill out the evaluation.”

The committee is open to student input. Rapp said, “I sit on the committee with Tamar Ariel, and we would be more than happy to hear ideas of students.”

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