The University Record, April 25, 1994

LETTERS

CRLT will propose revision of student rating system

We appreciate Prof. Philip Gingerich’s analysis of the relationship between course size and student ratings of U-M instructors in the April 18 edition of The University Record. Prof. Gingerich has raised several important matters that merit the attention of the University community and that should be addressed in a continuing conversation.

Research on evaluation of teaching confirms that there is a relationship between class size and an instructor’s global ratings. This is true of faculty ratings at the University of Michigan. However, the relationship is curvilinear. Ratings in very large classes are nearly as high as ratings in very small classes. At the University, the median rating for teachers of small classes (15 or fewer students) is 4.25; the median for classes of 16 to 100 students is 4.10; and the median rating for very large classes (more than 100 students) is 4.20.

Because CRLT is acutely aware of faculty concerns regarding the Instructor-Designed Questionnaires (IDQs), including the misuse of comparative data, CRLT will present to the provost a proposal for revising the current student ratings system later this summer. A number of criticisms of the IDQ were articulated to CRLT in a report by the provost’s CRLT Advisory Task Force (chaired by Rackham Associate Dean Bill Stebbins and made up of faculty), and those will addressed in our proposal.

Student ratings of teaching provide only part of the picture of a faculty member’s teaching effectiveness. We encourage faculty to explore the use of multiple methods of evaluation using multiple sources of information, both for improvement purposes and also for personnel decisions. Early in the fall term, CRLT will provide to the Univer-sity community a handbook for the evaluation of teaching that includes information on multiple approaches.

Crafting a better system for evaluating teaching is important; only with a better system will we be able to recognize and reward teaching adequately.

Constance E. Cook, director,
Center for Research on Learning and Teaching

Distrusts questionnaire

In response to M-CARE “Wellness Assessment” program information that was recently mailed to my home, I am submitting this letter to express my disapproval and mistrust in the contents of the questionnaire.

The “Wellness Assessment” introductory letter is misleading when presenting the “Wellness questionnaire” and overall objectives of the program.

Instead of presenting questions that are related to the physical health of a family member, the questionnaire is directed towards the social, psychological and behavioral profile of the family.

Examples of family profile questions are best represented by question #70, “In general, how are your social ties with your family and friends?,” or question # 114, “How many times during the past year have you been involved in or exposed to a violent argument?” and question #121, “Are you aware of appropriate ways to discipline your children?” Questions #13, 14, 16, 34, 54, 68, 73, 74, 75, 96, 97 and 113 can also be included in the above category.

I do not support the University of Michigan Fitness Research Center and M-CARE “Wellness Assessment” program due to its intrusion of family privacy and autonomy, nor do I support the practice of enticing employees with a promotional drawing to encourage them to participate in a family educational program based on secular norms.

I am recommending that all faculty and staff members at the University of Michigan exercise discernment before participating in any family programming.

Bruce A. Bender, area maintenance coordinator,
Housing Facilities Department

Hopwood winner writes in support of Reeves

I’m a graduate student in the M.S.W. program at the University of Michigan. As a non-traditional student, my experience at the University has been most challenging and often overwhelming. Next to my family, faculty and peers should also get credit for my achievements, since at times I thought I would not have pulled through without their extremely valuable support and attention.

I have been notified by the Hopwood Foundation that I have received an award in a writing contest. This award represents to me, more than anything, the validation of the greatest liberating experience I have ever enjoyed in my adult life. I have been to the mountains, to the woods, to the ocean, and never have I felt as free as when I was writing.

The work that I am being recognized for came to fruition, thanks to the guidance of Prof. Jimmy Reeves during one of his communication courses last fall. Ironically, I have also been recently notified that I am one of the 10 people accepted to the Master in Telecommunication Arts program. Although I am looking forward to another satisfying experience in the Communications Department, I have to question the University’s government and the department’s administration to allow the departure from this institution of people of the caliber of Prof. Reeves. That the University permits the loss of Reeves’ professional talent and his personal commitment to students is a humanistic and pedagogical contradiction to the mission of the University of Michigan, as well as a demonstration of poor leadership by its administration.

Julio Cesar Guerrero