"Iowa's Community Colleges: Evaluations as a Tool for Faculty Promotion and Termination."

By Snell, Joel C.; Mekies, Saul et al. | Education, Fall 1995 | Go to article overview
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"Iowa's Community Colleges: Evaluations as a Tool for Faculty Promotion and Termination."

Snell, Joel C., Mekies, Saul, Tesar, Dan, Education


It is the authors contention that student evaluations of faculty should be strongly considered as mandatory for annual review of instructor's teaching performance. Additionally, student evaluations should be used as part of the promotion and termination of the professor.

In this article, we want to establish that teaching can be measured in both quantitative and qualitative terms. Additionally, we present a descriptive survey of the strategies used by Iowa community colleges in using student evaluations for judgements in reference to faculty promotion and termination.

Measuring Teaching Performance

Since the early 30's, there have been numerous attempts to measure teaching performance. Consistently though the years, the qualities that appear paramount to students include the following: the teacher is prepared, organized and clear; the instructor has a great deal of general knowledge about the discipline; they have the ability to stimulate interest; the professor is approachable and friendly; grades and the presentation of the subject matter is balanced or fair. (1)

After campus revolts of the 60's, quality teaching again became extremely important in terms of the performance and integrity of the professor. In the spirit of the times, Dr. Kenneth Eble, deemed an excellent teacher, was awarded a grant to watch college teachers in their classroom all over the country and at every type of college. His summary and analysis was that the characteristics utilized above were also qualities that he perceived as important. (2)

Within a very short period after Eble's book, Miller operationalized these characteristics in terms of nominal questions that students may respond in reference to the capability and the ability of the teacher. (3) Snell et. al. through a series of articles, developed an index that could parsimoniously and efficiently cover the various roles of the professor in the classroom. Additionally, he used numerous purposive samples of various students, that differed by demographics at both the national level and the local level. His findings were that students want all the characteristics listed above, but made a special preference for "knowledgeable" and "interesting" teachers. (4) Additionally, he developed an evaluational tool that would measure faculty both quantitatively and qualitatively. (5)

Further, the National Education Associations' THOUGHT AND ACTION, strongly support that the characteristics of college classroom teachers can be identified as indicated before and can be measured.(6)

Iowa's Community College

The arena of the community college should not be spared when it comes to measurement of the faculty. In this section, we discuss the present situation and in the next section illustrate the need for measurement of faculty.

Although McGrath and Spear see difficulties in America's two year schools (7) other sources suggest that nearly 80% of future high school students will need post secondary training in the vocational-technical area, something best provided by community colleges (8). Thus, it appears that community colleges have a viable future both nationally and at the local level.

Locally, over half of the new college freshman in Iowa attend one of the state's community colleges. (9) Although the state and it's community colleges have seen economic downturns (10) the two year schools appear to have grown and enhance the wider community. (11)

It would appear to these authors that with the growth of the community colleges, as indicated previously, measurement of faculty performance become increasingly important as many new instructors will be teaching at the two year level.

Survey of Student Evaluations

Of the 15 schools contacted, we were able to receive a 2/3 reply. The consensus is that nearly all the institutions attempt to survey their instructors from the perspective of the student.

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