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EVOC518 WR2

 

System for Evaluation of Teachers

 

I currently hold two teaching jobs which have different systems of teacher evaluation.  The first I would like to discuss is my evaluations as an instructor of 8 hours, seminar type classes which I deliver for Standard Motor Parts, a company that sells automobile aftermarket replacement parts.  Additionally, SMP delivers some highly respected technical training to some of the one million auto technicians in the United States.  I have the unique job of delivering the English language programs in the Spanish language.

 

The evaluation method of SMP is simple and highly focused.  At the end of every training seminar, the students use an electronic answering tool to respond to seven questions regarding the quality of the instruction.  The questions are an integral part of the PowerPoint presentation used during the delivery of the seminar and the students answer the question with a number from 1 to 5, one indicating the best possible score and five the worse.   The instructor cannot see the results of the survey, nor can he open the file that is generated.  After the completion of the seminar, the survey results are sent via e-mail to the program coordinator for interpretation.  The report is then submitted to the instructor.  Here is a sample of the report:

 

Question

Highest Response

Average Response

Total Responses

Met my expectations

2

1

23

Usefulness of info

3

1

23

Instructor prepared?

2

1

23

Instructor politeness

2

1

22

Top 10 coverage

3

2

20

Will you attend again

2

1

22

 

The full text of the question is as follows:

  1. Did this course and its contents meet your expectations?
  2. Was the information presented to you in this course useful to you in your job, or do you think it will be useful in the future?
  3. Did the course instructor demonstrate his preparedness for teaching this course?
  4. Was the instructor polite and professional in his presentation of the course material?
  5. Did the instructor cover the “top ten” set of questions that was set as the course objective during the beginning ten minutes of the presentation?
  6. If offered in your area, would you attend one of these courses again?

 

This method of teacher evaluation has some definite positives.  First off, it is nearly immediate.  I sent off the evaluation file late at night after I finished my first session and had the results back the next day before I started my second session.  Though I got very good responses from the first session, I think I can honestly say I tried to do a better job in the second session, particularly in the area in which I scored the lowest, i.e., question number five.  I was not much more successful in the second session but I think I did make better, more efficient use of my teaching time as a result of the evaluation.

 

On the downside, it is possible that the shortness of the seminars do not allow for a very accurate teacher evaluation.  Students taking a semester long course may have a better idea as to instructor effectiveness.  Another possible negative is that the material contained in the presentation may be overly complex, depending on the level of the students attending.  If so, an instructor who is only looking for a good evaluation may focus too much on getting completely through the presentation in the hopes of getting the best possible score on number five.  But doing so may not be in the best interests of the students, if the pace of the class is such that many students get left behind.  Thirdly, the evaluation is done purely by the students, not by any administrative person with knowledge as to teaching methodology.   Ultimately though, in the seminar setting, the student may really be the best judge of the teacher.

 

Overall, I think that the system of evaluation has a lot going for it.  Because SMP does training on a for-profit basis and the students pay a fairly high price for the training, it is of great interest to the company that the instructors give value, in the hopes that it will generate future business.  What I don’t know is what remedial steps management would take if evaluations were poor.

 

In contrast to this nearly immediate evaluation, my experience at community college evaluations is that they are of very low priority.  In the roughly 1200 hours of teaching that I have delivered for MSJC, I can only recall perhaps two evaluations, and none of them were in the past six years.   This is probably due to the fact that after the retirement of Ivan Hinerman who had headed the automotive department for 27 years, the school has gone through three different department heads, none of them lasting more than two years.  This turmoil allowed such things as part-time teacher evaluations to fall to the bottom of the priority list. 

 

It is my belief that the system of evaluation used at MSJC is more geared towards deciding who is going to be offered a teaching position the following semester, and not as a system of improving teacher quality.  My own opinion is that this is an inadequate system, and could definitely use huge improvement.  I doubt not that this inadequacy is in large major due to the low requirements for teaching at community college level in the vocational education area.  For whatever reason, part-time instructors in voc ed are not required to have any training in teaching.  But what this really means is that a GREATER focus should be made on teacher evaluations, and those evaluations should be used to direct those teachers to the appropriate courses where they can get some help in where they are lacking.  Instead, the evaluations are used as a method of teacher firing, a decidedly non-productive method of creating continuity and improvement. 

 

But it is also true that budget constraints have left full-time department heads in charge of perhaps six or seven part-time instructors.  Such a load often puts the department head in the uncomfortable position of just keeping his/her head above water, and hoping that the students will complain if an instructor is REALLY bad.  Ultimately, this sort of reactive management is likely to get good results only due to dump luck; maybe all the instructors are self motivated and naturally good teachers.  Chances are that this sort of a non-system is not going to have good results over the long haul.

 

My suggestion would be that management recognize the problem of the overloading of full-time department heads, and move the responsibility for teacher evaluations to less-burdened administrative personnel who could easily be trained to do the job.  While it is unlikely that such a person would be able to analyze the technical side of the instructor’s work, they could still evaluate nearly every other aspect of his teaching.  Such a solution, while perhaps not perfect, would certainly be a big improvement over the current system, and would undoubtedly be welcomed by those part-time instructors who really would desire to improve their teaching skills.