U of C Confidential

By Robert Granger

According to some students, the new teacher evaluation forms don’t make the grade.

The familiar red and white bubble sheet, dubbed "Universal Student Ratings of Instruction Instrument," was administered by the university for the first time this semester. What was supposed to be a straightforward and uncomplicated method of rating instructors has vexed some pupils. Discontent stems from what is considered by many to be a breach of confidentiality.

"I didn’t fill out one of mine because of the id number thing," said Aileen, a third- year Science major who withheld her last name. "I understand that it’s required so that they can check that you are in the course, but they don’t require an id number for any of the other [faculty-administrated] evaluations."

"The significant issue for the students who have been approaching me is the inclusion of the student id number on the evaluation forms," said Students’ Union Vice-president Academic Toireasa Jespersen.

Jespersen insists, however, that the id number is necessary, due to space constraints and to confirm that the student was officially registered in the class. Jespersen emphasized that students will not experience any academic repercussions based on their evaluations.

"The id number cannot be connected with the ordinary student filling out the evaluation," said Jespersen. "If the prof requests a validation of the data, they only receive the back part of the form, never the id number. These evaluations are kept under strict security protocols."

Other students were not as disturbed over the issue.

"I have absolutely no problem with giving my id number out," said third-year Management student Dinesh Ratnayake.

Financial Information Systems Manager for University Computing Services and Implementation Task Force member, Jeremy Mortis, said that the inclusion of id numbers was necessary.

"It ensures not only that the student is a member of the class, but also that they stand behind what they say," said Mortis.

Others are unhappy with the nature of the questions and the absence of space for comments.

"Too vague. Way too vague. They have to be more specific and get to marking and how they’re evaluating it on that basis," said fourth-year Economics major Ann-Marie Gallotta. "And I don’t see why you’d have to include your id number, but it doesn’t matter to me either way."

According to Mortis, a comments section is not feasible.

"We don’t include room for comments because of two reasons. Number one is libel, and number two is due to the workload that would result. It’s safer to restrict the form to predetermined questions."

Jespersen concurred with Mortis.

"Administratively, comments are a nightmare to process-can you imagine 20,000 students, multiplied by four courses each with one full paragraph of written comments?" asked Jespersen. "The departments and faculties are encouraged to administer comment-oriented evaluations which are tailored to their own programs, written and analyzed by the faculty."

There are no immediate plans to change the format of the evaluations.

"We’re hesitant to change questions on the fly," said Mortis. "They were carefully studied and piloted with 1,000 people. It wouldn’t be right to change it just because of a few opinions."

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