YU Course Evaluations - Yeshiva University Student Academic

YU Course
Publishing and Online
Reasons to Publish
• Provides more information to students. This information is
valuable to students, producing “educated consumers” who can
more knowledgably choose courses.
• This knowledge will alleviate many of the “first-day”
anxieties associated with walking into a classroom and meeting
a professor who is not what the student expected or wanted.
Declassifying course evaluations will recognize excellent
• There is some evidence to suggest that the publication of
evaluations will cause students to take the process more
seriously and increasing response rates, enhancing the value of
the entire system.
Objections to Publication
and Responses
 Student evaluations create perverse incentives If students
give higher evaluations to easy markers, professors have an
incentive to inflate grades.
 Student evaluations provide poor quality information that is
worse than no information at all.
 These are arguments against using evaluations at all.
 RateMyProfessor.com is certainly a more skewed forum of less
substance. Publishing course evaluations would provide a
more meaningful and substantive alternative.*
 The data collected in course reviews is of little or no use to
 Credit students. They have the ability to determine what is
and what is not of value to them.
Precedent for Declassification
•University of
•Queens College
•Carnegie Mellon
•University of Chicago
•Boston College
•Brandeis University
 We propose to post future numerical data from course
evaluations online.
 The site will only be accessible to Yeshiva University
 Because we recognize the myriad issues involved in
posting the students’ comments, we propose a
compromise. Only numerical data will be posted, but a
message board will be allowed underneath.
 The message board will be moderated by the SAAC or
any other body the faculty suggests.
Legal Considerations
 Toby Stone, of YU’s Legal Department OK’d the publication of
numerical data. (Was unsure regarding the message board.)
 Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides that
"[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall
be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information
provided by another information content provider." 47 U.S.C.
§ 230(c)(1).
 Courts have upheld this ruling across the board, protecting
blog owners/editors from content submitted by third parties,
even if the site owner edits that information
How would this work?
 Currently, the data from every evaluation winds up in an
Excel spreadsheet.
Practical Implementation
 A computer programmer, even a student, could easily
turn this spreadsheet into graphs that look like these:
These would be searchable by both course and instructor.
Online Evaluations
Reasons to try it:
 Less expensive: will cut down on the time it takes to
distribute, collect, store, and process the pencil and paper
 Greener: reduces wasteful use of pencils and paper supporting
YU’s environmental sustainability initiatives.
 Customization: Allows for the easy customization of
evaluations by departments or even individual faculty members.
 User Friendly: Encourages students to type more substantive
answers in the comments section.
 More efficient: Instructors no longer need to take class time to
ask students to complete evaluation forms and instructors access
reports about their evaluations more quickly.
and Responses
 Moving evaluations online results in lower rates of student
 This is a valid concern. There are however a number of ways
to combat this trend:
 Allowing earlier access to grades for those who complete
evaluations. (University of Miami, Yale)
 Can reserve time during class for course evaluations.
 Student Responses are less accurate and/or meaningful.
 This was shown, in a study done by the IDEA center, to be
factually false.
 Decreases Student Anonymity
 There are a number of ways around this.
 To start we would suggest a pilot program:
 Offer paper and online evaluations simultaneously, perhaps
only among a few faculty or specific departments.
 Appoint a committee of faculty, administration, and
students to oversee the management of this pilot program.
 They would be responsible for outlining a program, what
we would want from an online system:
 Ease of use, Integration w/Banner, automatic update of
courses, customization, student anonymity, security
 After a semester, the committee should reconvene and
make recommendations regarding the future use of an
online system.
 There are a number of companies that we looked at
that are capable of implementing a program like the
one we are looking for.
•We already have a
contract with them, so
would cost no extra.
•Significantly cheaper
than the competition.
•Seems to offer similar
if not identical
•We could use both
paper and electronic
•Priced at about
systems simultaneously. $6000/year for this
•We are comfortable
•Offers a free pilot
with the system
Survey Dig
A program could also be implemented by
our own ITS… or even by a student.
Student Options
 Students want to implement these changes. If they
cannot be done through the school, we plan to do what
students at many other institutions have done: create
our own review website.

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