New Report Release

Sep 9 2020

(Re)Prioritizing Pedagogic Feedback: Faculty Experiences with Qualitative Comments from Student Evaluations of Teaching (SETs)

In recent years, mounting evidence of the dubious validity of Student Evaluations of Teaching (SETs) has generated a series of challenges to their use in decision-making on faculty careers across North America. The most noteworthy of these culminated in June 2018 with an Ontario provincial arbitrator ruling in favour of the Ryerson University Faculty Association, whereby SETs scores should no longer be used for tenure and promotion decisions. This established an empowering precedent for faculty elsewhere. However, largely absent from the scholarly literature on SETs, and from the Ryerson decision itself, is what to do with the open-ended feedback students provide on SETs, which faculty are expected to utilize to improve their teaching. There is sparse research into how these qualitative comments affect faculty mental health, wellbeing, professional self-esteem, and pedagogical practise. Yet, anecdotal accounts of unfair, hostile, even harassing comments are increasing with the transition to online delivery of the survey instruments. The potential for unevenness in psychological burden that this imposes raises issues of equity, given that identity-based biases in SETs scores are well documented.

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