Student evaluations impact professor tenure

Students are the main focus of Oakland University. OU and the professors on campus want to hear what students have to say about the classes they are taking and how their education is being presented.

Student evaluations give students the opportunity to give feedback to their professors on how the class was run and what worked well or what didn’t work at all. 

“I know individually professors take them into account to improve their teaching when they see students making comments about the organization of the class or the workload being too high,” Dominique Daniel, a chair on the faculty and reappointment and promotion committee said. “They, themselves take the seriously.”

These evaluations end up affecting professors more than students expect. They are taken into consideration by the university when looking at professor reviews and giving out promotions or tenure. 

Some professors are hired on a tenure track, which means they are evaluated by OU every two years and after six years, that is the year known as your “tenure year.” Meaning if all works out and evaluations are great and students are succeeding and your research is doing great you can go up for a promotion. After receiving tenure once they are ready, they can go up to one more promotion to full professor which you need be able to demonstrate an extra leadership role.

While student evaluations aren’t the only thing that is affecting the promotions of professors. Their research and published work, their service to the community, mentorship to students, courses you created are other things that are taken into consideration.

“But the course evaluations do play a fairly important role there because they want to see that you can connect students and that you are delivering material and forming connections with students in a way that they find meaningful and helpful,” Professor Rebekah Farrugia said.

One professors that were hired on the tenure track receive tenure that means that they have been making big steps in the teaching career. Tenure is a sort of job security and makes professors go from an assistant professor to an associate professor.

“We have that because we want faculty to have the freedom to teach and to teach what they want in the classroom,” Farrugia said. “And to be able tot alk about certain things in a way that they don’t have to feel like anything controversial will impact their job security.” 

The university makes sure to look at other factors when deciding on promotions, as student evaluations can have a lot of bias. 

With this past year with classes being online, student evaluations seem to be more empty. The response rate has dropped significantly and professors are trying to encourage students to take the online evaluations. OU is taking this into consideration when looking at the promotions.

Students wanting to take their classes’ evaluations should check their email for an email from [email protected] for the links to them or email [email protected] for questions. Also students can ask their professors for the evaluation links.