Course forms useless

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By Dalson Chen

The generic faculty and course evaluation form that Ryerson students pencil-in every semester needs improvement, according to President Claude Lajeunesse.

Lajeunesse said he wishes a joint faculty and administration committee would “improve the questionnaire to provide information that could be more useful.” He noted that an effort a few years ago to revise the form “led to nowhere.”

Vice Provost of Faculty Affairs Michael Dewson said the form has already undergone some changes and will be different in the winter session. He said the changes were made to address “design problems” and mostly involve the order of questions and their rating method. “It’s not a huge revision,” he said.

Faculty association president David Checkland has his own reservations about the form. “They’re somewhat useful, but they have severe limitations,” he said.

“I would like to see a comment section,” said Checkland. “Personally, I find that more useful.” But he conceded that including a comment section could be difficult.

“You can’t process that mechanically,” he said.

The forms are tabulated by the secretary of Academic Council, Diane Schulman.

Individual faculty members receive summaries of their results, as well as average ratings by school for comparison purposes. The results are kept on permanent record and can be cited as part of a faculty member’s application for promotion or merit pay.

Schulman said the form is “part of the contractual agreement with our faculty.” She noted that any changes to it must be negotiated between the RFA and the vice provost. “It’s purely a contractual matter,” she said.

Vince Carlin, Chair of Ryerson’s School of Journalism, isn’t satisfied with the form. “They’re a very rough measure,” he said. “You have no sense of anything other than cold numbers…It doesn’t give you much to work on.”

Carlin thinks a comment section would be ideal. “Most good teachers want to know what their students have to say.”

Four-year student Graham Phillips has nothing good to say about course evaluation forms. “It’s not like they’re going to affect the course,” he said. “There’s no comment section. Nothing’s going to change.”

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