December 2018 Bulletin

Student Evaluations of Teaching: the Kaplan Arbitration Ruling

On June 28, William Kaplan, the Arbitrator appointed to resolve the issue of Faculty Course Surveys (FCS) and related matters, including the use of student evaluations of teaching (SET) for promotion and/or tenure decisions, between the Ryerson Faculty Association and the Ryerson University, rendered a decision which highlights the limitations of the use of SETs, and the importance of a well-rounded review of faculty teaching. 

The APUO prepared a summary of the arbitration ruling and provides a brief analysis of its potential impacts at the University of Ottawa. The text is available in full at the following link.

Course materials and copyright
 

Some of you have contacted us expressing concerns about students redistributing audio recordings, videos, photos, and course materials without the authorisation of professors. These actions violate your intellectual property rights and the Canadian Copyright Act. The APUO offers the following sample statements for granting or withholding permission for the recording of lectures as examples of text that you may include in your course syllabi.  

Sample 1: Professor forbids recordings and redistribution of course materials
Recording lectures in any way, including the taking of photographs, is prohibited in this course unless specific permission has been granted by the professor. The educational materials developed for this course, including, but not limited to, lecture notes and slides, handout materials, examinations and assignments, and any materials posted to Brightspace, are the intellectual property of the professor. These materials have been developed for student use only and are not intended for wider dissemination and/or communication outside of a given course. Participation in this course constitutes an agreement by all parties to abide by the relevant University Policies, and to respect the intellectual property of others during and after their association with the University of Ottawa. Students creating unauthorized audio and/or video recordings of lectures, and/or redistributing or providing unauthorized audio, video, photographic or textual material of lecture content violates the professor’s intellectual property rights, and the Canadian Copyright Act.    

Sample 2: Professor permits audio and/or video recordings but with no distribution rights
For this course, students may create audio and/or video recordings of the lectures for their personal use. Such recordings are intended to permit lecture content review so as to enhance understanding of the topics presented. They are not a substitute for attending class meetings. Please be advised that since audio and video recordings are permitted, students’ voices and/or images may be recorded by others during the class. Please speak to the course instructor if this is a concern for you. When creating audio and/or video recordings of the lectures, students agree to the following terms and conditions:

  1. Recordings are not to be distributed through any on or off-line distribution channel without the expressed permission of the professor.
     
  2. Recordings are not to be shared with other classmates without the expressed permission of the professor.

Participation in this course constitutes an agreement by all parties to abide by the relevant University Policies, and to respect the intellectual property of others during and after their association with the University of Ottawa. Non-compliance with these terms violates the professor’s intellectual property rights and the Canadian Copyright Act. 

Posters of a racist-Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, and homophobic nature

The APUO strongly denounces the racist Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, and homophobic posters that were seen on our campus in late November/early December. The posters are part of a context in which we are witnessing an increase in hate and discrimination-based speech and crimes around the world. The APUO believes that discrimination and any acts rooted in hatred and intolerance have no place at the University of Ottawa. 

We express our solidarity and support for the communities targeted by the hateful message promoted through these posters.

The Canadian Association of university Teachers and the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations

In November, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denouncing the adoption of the back-to-work legislation, putting an end to negotiations between the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and Canada Post, and ordering an immediate return to work. The APUO firmly supports CAUT’s position and reiterates that free collective bargaining is a right. 

For its part, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) shared a press release in which it expressed concerns about the Ford government’s decision to cancel the Université de l’Ontario français project. OCUFA is adding its voice to that of the APUO, which, on November 26, strongly condemned the cuts affecting post-secondary education and the Franco-Ontarian community

APUO office during the holidays

Finally, we wish all of our members a happy holiday. Please note that the APUO office will be closed from Friday, December 21, to January 2, inclusively. The office will reopen with our regular 8 am to 4 pm hours on Thursday, January 3, 2019. 

Assessment of Senior Administrator – Faculty of Arts

Dear members of the APUO,

In accordance with its Policy Statement on Assessment of Senior Administrators, in December 2018 the APUO asked members in the Faculty of Arts to complete a survey to assess their dean.

You can view the summary of results and the details of the quantitative questions by clicking on the appropriate link.

As this is the first time that a Senior Administrator is evaluated for a second time, it might be useful to compare the data. As you can see from the table below, the assessment results for Dean Kee have dropped significantly for all categories.

CategoriesFebruary 2017 assessmentDecember 2018 assessmentDifference
Leadership3.693.38-0.31
Allocation of Resources3.472.88-0.59
Administrative Ability3.723.24-0.48
Personal Relations3.883.48-0.40
Overall Evaluations3.663.09-0.57

In interpreting the arithmetic mean values, it should be noted that the items on the questionnaire have a range of 1 to 5: 1 represents extremely poor performance; 5 represents outstanding performance; any mean value below 3 indicates unsatisfactory performance; mean values from 3 to 4 indicate satisfactory performance; and mean values above 4 indicate more than satisfactory performance.

You can view the results of previous surveys here:
·         Winter 2017 assessments
·         Winter 2016 assessments

With kind regards,

The APUO Executive Committee

Student Evaluations of Teaching: the Kaplan Arbitration Ruling

On June 28, William Kaplan, the Arbitrator appointed to resolve the issue of Faculty Course Surveys (FCS) and related matters, including the use of student evaluations of teaching (SET) for promotion and/or tenure decisions, between the Ryerson Faculty Association and the Ryerson University, rendered a decision which highlights the limitations of the use of SETs, and the importance of a well-rounded review of faculty teaching.

Evidence presented during the arbitration demonstrated that individual characteristics including race, gender, accent, age and the appearance of a professor, all influenced the results of SETs. Other factors such as whether the evaluations are done online versus in-class, the courses are elective or mandatory, the number of students in the course, the subject matter, and the teaching style also impact the SET results.

“The expert evidence led at the hearing persuasively demonstrates that the most meaningful aspects of teaching performance and effectiveness cannot be assessed by Student Evaluations of Teaching. Insofar as assessing teaching effectiveness is concerned – especially in the context of tenure and promotion – Student Evaluations of Teaching are imperfect at best, and downright biased and unreliable at worst.”
– William Kaplan

At the University of Ottawa, the use of A-Reports (based on student questionnaires) is one of several elements considered in the promotion and/or tenure process. While the overall procedure to evaluate teaching at Ryerson University and at our own institution differ in many ways, the Kaplan arbitration ruling presents valid criticism, and exposes limitations of some aspects of our system.

What role do the A-reports play in the evaluation process at uOttawa? Unlike many other institutions, A-Reports may only be used as an indicator towards a decision by the Dean to initiate or not a Direct Peer Review of Teaching (DPRT). As per article 24.2.1.3 c) of our Collective Agreement, unless the Dean initiates a DPRT due to a pattern of weak A-Reports or outstanding teaching, any evaluation of teaching must be considered to have met expectations. Thus, at our institution, the Central Administration cannot deny tenure or promotion based on “weak” A-Reports alone. While we appreciate that in our Collective Agreement, there are measures in place to allow professors to communicate their own reflections on teaching and learning in light of A-reports, we also recognize that this doesn’t fully address the inequities and consequences for professors who face strong (conscious or unconscious) bias in their teaching evaluations. In light of the low participation rates on online student evaluation of teaching, the APUO is further concerned about the possibility of low participation rates exacerbating bias and compromising the relevance of the data. This is particularly important for professors who plan to apply for promotion and /or tenure in the coming years.

As a result of the most recent round of collective bargaining, the APUO will meet with the Central Administration in May of each academic year to discuss and review issues arising from the use of student evaluations data in making career recommendations and decisions.

The Central administration mandated the Senate Committee on teaching and its evaluation to study approaches to evaluating teaching. The Committee will make recommendations to revise/change current practices. Even if the Senate accepts to modify the current practices, the Central Administration will be required to get the APUO’s approval prior to implementing its use to officially evaluate a member’s teaching.

We wish to remind members that they are strongly encouraged to raise concerns they have regarding the use of student evaluations of teaching with the APUO, mainly if they believe they might negatively impact their application for promotion and/or tenure.

You may also be interested in reading the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ (CAUT) November bulletin The end of student questionnaires?