West Texas A&M University

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Course Evaluations - Frequently Asked Questions

Course Evaluations - Student FAQs

Why Should I Fill Out a Course Evaluation?

Every course you take at WT gives you the opportunity to provide feedback on the course and instruction. Starting in Fall 2015, all course evaluations will be online through IOTA Solutions called MyClass Evaluations. You can still be asked to complete evaluations during class time using your mobile device. The new evaluations are 9 items with the option to provide additional feedback. Some professors will ask you to provide proof of completing the evaluation if you choose to do so, which is an option provided by MyClass Evaluations. All responses are anonymously collected and no data are revealed until after course grades are submitted.

It Helps You.

Filling out a course evaluation allows you to reflect on your semester experience and academic progress. What have you learned? What teaching style best fits your learning style? Which part of classes did you enjoy most? What could the professor have done better? Be thoughtful in how you answer your course evaluations. This information is used by your professors and the department to improve courses.

It Helps Your Professors.

Thoughtful evaluations help your professors identify what works in their courses and what needs improvement. This is your opportunity to give your assessment of a specific course. The more detailed and specific you are in your evaluation (about lecture, reading materials, assignments, teaching style), the more information that a professor has for restructuring that course in the future. Your input is critical for the development and growth of future WT courses.

It Helps WT Administrators

Your evaluations help department heads evaluate your professors and the courses they offer. They use evaluations to provide resources for faculty to improve instruction. Course evaluations are one part of many tools used to make decisions about annual faculty performance evaluations and tenure and promotion decisions. This is a very important decision and your voice joined with other students is valuable even if the decision does not meet your expectations. For more information about tenure at WT, see below

It Helps Your Fellow WT Students. 

Your course feedback helps professors improve their courses and helps your fellow students in making decisions about future courses. Your voice helps your peers and future Buffs get the best experience from their education possible. Be an active member of your WT Community by taking the responsibility of course evaluations seriously.

 

Understanding Tenure at WTAMU

Not all faculty members are on a tenure-track. Some are fixed-term and some are on a yearly contract, but all are evaluated annually. This section discusses the tenure process and what it means to be tenured. The concept of tenure is not generally well understood but it is as important for students as it is for faculty.

Tenure is about Academic Freedom

Most people think tenure is job security and that a tenured professor can never be fired. That is not technically true. Tenured professors can still be fired for not doing their job or for misconduct. Post-tenure review is a means for making sure tenured professors are still meeting the teaching, research, and service requirements of the university.

Tenure is about academic freedom, assuring that professors cannot be fired for what they teach and research. This is good news for students. It means a professor’s expertise and research agenda is not at the whim of those with differing political, religious, or personal views. It means that students can learn and research in a safe space because their academic freedoms are protected as well.

Sometimes it might seem that a professor who a student does not like should be fired, but tenure decisions depend not on one student’s views, but on the evaluations from many students, alumni, and peers. It also depends on research activity and service to WT, the community, and the instructor’s field of study.

Tenure is a Process

New faculty members have to serve the university for a number of years before they can be considered for tenure. For most who come in with the rank of assistant professor, they will serve for six years before receiving tenure. Those who come in with the rank of associate professor may only have to serve four years, having met tenure requirements at a previous institution.

Faculty members apply for tenure and/or promotion by providing an application portfolio that includes student evaluations, peer evaluations, alumni evaluations, and evidence of effectiveness in teaching, research, and service. These portfolios are evaluated at every level of the university: department, college, and university. The provost, president, and Texas A&M Board of Regents then make the final decisions to approve or deny the tenure and/or promotion application.

A faculty member who receives tenure must continue to excel at teaching, research, and service. The post-tenure review process of the Texas A&M System requires that all tenured professors go through a post-tenure review every six years at minimum. Tenured faculty members who are placed on probation because of poor annual evaluations are also required to go through a post-tenure review. Professors who do not successfully make it through the review can be terminated despite being tenured.

Promotion

Promotion is granted through a similar review process. For assistant professors, tenure and promotion decisions are generally made at the same time. Assistant professors can be granted tenure and promotion to associate professor. Candidates who are denied tenure are given a one-year terminal contract. An associate professor can apply for promotion to full professor after serving at least an additional four years at the university post-tenure.