Interior design eyes a makeover

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By Rosanne Van Vierzen

Interior design faculty are used to getting slammed in the Instructor Course Evaluations (ICE).

“It’s been happening since the surveys started,” said Andrew Vasilevich, who has been teaching with the department for 30 years.

In surveys obtained and ranked by The Eyeopener for the fall 1999 term, interior design placed within the bottom ten programs in terms of students’ satisfaction with their instructors and courses. In winter 200, the program ranked last.

Vasilevich said although he’s used to seeing the same results each year, the program’s faculty still take the numbers seriously and have tried different ways of improving their ranking.

“We’ve had focus groups, many discussions with faculty, student counselling and town hall meetings,” he said. “[The low numbers] are not good and we want to do something more, but I don’t know what more we can do.”

Michael Plasse-Taylor, who has been teaching interior design at Ryerson for two years, was astounded by the program’s low ranking. He said the reason for the low scores might be because there are too many variables at play within the surveys themselves, so they don’t truly capture students’ opinions.

“I don’t know if the survey is an effective tool from a student’s point of view,” he said. “It needs to be helpful to profs and students.”

Meghan McBride, a second-year interior design student, agrees the questions need work.

“They surveys aren’t good,” she said. “I don’t know how they get the answers they need with the questions they give.”

McBride said interior design’s low scores may also be the result of poor teaching styles.

“Sometimes three different profs teach one class and it’s hard to evaluate three on one survey,” she said. “There’s a lot of miscommunication between the faculty and the students.”

The years ago, some interior design students tried to bring in surveys that were more specific to both the course and the program.

Then-RyeSAC president David Steele, with the program’s support, tried to change the evaluations to focus on what students cared about.

But the chair of the department was replaced and the new evaluations were never launched.

Steele still believes the scope of Ryerson’s ICE evaluation is too narrow.

“I think students would appreciate a survey gauged more toward accurate feedback,” he said.

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