Articles, bylaws and policies
Several basic documents contain materials describing faculty and academic staff matters. These documents are theWisconsin Statutes (particularly Chapter 36--the "Merger Law"), the Wisconsin Administrative Code for the University of Wisconsin System (UWS), the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse Faculty Personnel Rules, the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse--Policies and Procedures for Academic Staff and the by-laws of individual academic departments.
Chapter 36 of the Wisconsin Statutes creates the University of Wisconsin System and details the responsibilities of the UW-System board of regents, the president, the chancellors, the faculty, and the students. It also governs faculty tenure and probationary appointments, as well as academic staff appointments.
The Wisconsin Administrative Code for the University of Wisconsin System governs faculty appointments; procedures for dismissal, layoff and termination of faculty for reasons of financial emergency; complaints and grievances; outside activities by faculty; faculty/academic staff ethics; academic staff appointments and dismissal for cause; layoff of academic staff for budget or program reasons; outside activities by academic staff, limited and other appointments; student disciplinary procedures; conduct on university lands; and sick leave.
Both the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse Faculty Personnel Rules and the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse Policies and Procedures for Academic Staff respond to the Administrative Code and UWS chapters by supplying, where required, campus details and implementation. The by-laws of individual academic departments further respond to these documents by supplying details and implementation within departments.
In addition to these documents, faculty governance at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse is implemented by
- Articles of Faculty Organization
- Faculty Senate By-laws
- Faculty Senate Policies
The Articles of Faculty Organization define the faculty of the institution as well as the powers, duties and organization of the Faculty Senate. The Faculty Senate Bylaws describe operation and responsibilities of the various Faculty Senate Standing committees. The Faculty Senate Policies list the policies adopted by the Faculty Senate.
Student Evaluation of Instruction at UWL
As of Fall 2016, all student evaluations of instruction (SEIs) will be collected electronically. The Provost and IT, in consultation with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, indicated that all SEI administration would be electronic based on the resource implications of having dual systems or only scantron-based systems. The decision was based both on budget and personnel limitations. Decisions regarding the administration of the SEIs were based on creating as fully an automated system as possible while still serving the needs of students, instructors, and departments. The following document serves as a statement of university policy regarding the instrument, administration, reporting and record keeping associated with student evaluations of instruction (SEIs). Documentation regarding the specific instructions for the use of the software associated with electronic administration has been developed separately.
-- Approved by Faculty Senate, 2nd reading, on October 20, 2016
I. Overview - The Purpose and Use of SEIs
Student evaluations of instruction generally serve two purposes: 1) to help improve instruction and 2) for personnel decisions (i.e. merit, retention, tenure, post-tenure review, and promotion).
B. UWL and UW System Policy
In 2007, UWL adopted a campus-wide SEI instrument composed of six common items for use in personnel decisions. A common set of SEI items has several characteristics that make it particularly useful for personnel decisions. Specifically, standardized items and administration procedures allow for a shared framework to discuss evaluations of teaching. Such items need to be applicable to a wide variety of instructional settings and focus on dimensions of teaching performance that are generally acknowledged as being important. Despite the utility of a common set of SEI items, it is important to keep in mind several considerations:
- No SEI is a precise instrument. Therefore, the interpretation of results should focus on extreme patterns across several classes, not on trivial differences in mean values for single teaching episodes.
- Although student evaluation of teaching is required, departments are not limited to the common SEI items. Departments may design and add items especially for teaching improvement use. Individual instructors are allowed to survey their students outside of the SEI process to collect feedback and for improvement use.
- Student feedback is only one source of data for assessing teaching effectiveness. SEI results should be interpreted in conjunction with data from other assessment methods, in particular peer evaluation of teaching, and assessment of student learning. For instance, both the faculty and IAS promotion committees consider multiple sources for evidence of teaching effectiveness when reviewing candidates for promotion.
- Several variables, other than teaching effectiveness, are related to student evaluations, and as such, judgments about SEI results must consider those contexts.
The UWL Faculty Personnel Rule 3.05, Periodic Review, requires both student and peer evaluation of teaching for merit pay, retention, tenure, and promotion decisions. The student evaluations will be governed by the Board of Regents policy, but the Chancellor, UWL Faculty Senate, and departments may establish additional regulations. In Fall of 2016, the Provost and IT, in consultation with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, indicated that all SEI administration would be electronic based on the resource implications of having dual systems or only Scantron-based systems. The decision was based both on budget and personnel limitations. Decisions regarding the administration of the SEIs were based on creating as fully an automated system as possible while still serving the needs of students, instructors, and departments.
UW System: In October, 1974, the Wisconsin Board of Regents adopted a student evaluation of instruction policy [Regent Policy Document 20-2 (formerly 74-13)]. The policy recognizes the importance of student evaluation information. It speaks to the use of student evaluations for the improvement of instruction; retention, promotion, and tenure decisions; and merit salary increase deliberations. The policy recognizes that student evaluations used for teaching improvement are most useful when the instructor makes decisions about the items, methods, and frequency of evaluation. The policy encourages system institutions to allow a wide variety of methods for using SEI results for teaching improvement and requires each institution to develop “systematic and firm procedure(s)” guiding the use of SEI results for personnel decisions (e.g. tenure or promotion). The Regents recognize that student evaluations are but one measure of teaching effectiveness and must be interpreted with reference to the reliability and validity of the method employed.
C. SEI Principles of Use and Interpretation
- SEI results are foremost for the use of the instructor in improving instruction.
- SEI results are used by departments in retention, tenure, post-tenure review, promotion, merit and annual reviews. The results are considered by the department, together with a variety of other information on instruction, and interpreted within the departmental context.
- SEI results are reported by departments to the Dean and Provost in retention, tenure, post-tenure review, promotion, and reappointment recommendations. For promotions, the results are also shared with the IAS or Faculty promotion committees. When reported outside of the department it is the department’s interpretation that provides meaning and significance to the data.
- SEI results must be interpreted within the context of variables known to be related to evaluations (e.g. student motivation, class size, discipline, etc).
- SEI results from a single episode of a course are typically not used to justify personnel decisions. It is only through repeated evaluation that departments can discern useful patterns.
- SEI results are most informative when students are asked to respond to questions that they can reasonably evaluate in their experience.
- SEI results will be reported to instructors only after final grades have been submitted.
- SEI responses will be anonymous. Students shall not sign or in any way identify themselves on the SEI forms.
II. The Instrument
The six items below shall be included on all Student Evaluation of Instruction (SEI) forms (hereafter referred to as the “common items”). Results from these six items will be reported for all personnel decisions for which SEI results are reported.
Departments may add additional items to provide information for teaching improvement and program evaluation; however, only the common items are reported for personnel purposes. Departments should be judicious in their inclusion of additional items and ensure the data from the items is being used systematically and effectively. Longer measures where respondents are required to choose an option fatigue respondents and reduce the likelihood of completion both for individual courses and across courses. Conversely, if utilized, open-ended options can provide useful data and students need only respond if they wish.
Individual instructors may develop and utilize their own classroom evaluations aimed at improved teaching practices and student learning; however, the administration of such measures would occur outside of the policy and procedure that guides the formal assessment of the student evaluation of instruction.
One of the six common items is used as a motive measure that assesses a student’s interest in taking the course. The results from this item are reported separately from the other items in SEI reports for personnel purposes.
- I was looking forward to taking this course.
The other five common items are aggregated to produce a single item “composite” or “core” score that is reported in SEI reports for personnel purposes. However, the scores and the distributions for the individual items are provided to individual instructors and the department.
2. The instructor was helpful to students.
3. The instructor was well prepared.
4. The instructor communicated the subject matter clearly.
5. I learned a great deal from the instructor.
6. Overall, this instructor was excellent.
Students rate each item with a Likert-type scale of 1 = Strongly Disagree to 5 = Strongly Agree.
The following written instructions are provided to the students prior to accessing the measure:
This course evaluation is an important means for you to express your view of your classroom experience. Although we assess the quality of instruction in many ways, we place great value on student input because of the unique perspective you have on what occurs in the classroom throughout the semester. Thus you are important partners in the process of making the course more effective, the instructor more attuned to his or her strengths and weaknesses, and the university a better place to learn. As such we ask you to treat the process professionally, seriously, sensitively, and collegially. Carefully consider the questions and answer truthfully. Your responses are one important factor in decisions affecting the career of your instructor. Instructors will not have access to course evaluations until after grades have been posted. We will treat the evaluation forms as the confidential documents that they are.
Departments can provide additional instructions for any items added for teaching improvement or program evaluation.
Any changes to the SEI common items needs endorsement by the Faculty Senate. Faculty Senate promotion committees determine the format of how SEIs are reported for promotion. Retention, tenure, post-tenure, and IAS review processes mirror the reporting format utilized for promotion.
III. Administration of SEIs
A. Individual Instructors and departmental roles in administering SEIs
Individual instructors’ roles in administering SEIs are to encourage students to complete SEIs. In order to increase response rates, individual instructors may wish to provide in-class time to complete the measures whenever the option is possible.
Department level obligations include the following:
- Determine the inclusion of any added fixed format items (additional to the standard common items)
- Determine the inclusion of any open-ended items (such as “What did the instructor do that most helped your learning in this course?”)
- Determine which, if any, courses are not required to be assessed and be sure that the SEI tool is turned off for those courses (e.g., intersession courses, or specific independent study courses).
- Distribute the results of SEIs to the instructors within 4 weeks of the conclusion of the semester (prior to the start of the next semester).
- Determine when/how/if any individuals (beyond the instructor and chair) have access to any SEI results beyond the known uses for SEIs in specific personnel review (retention, tenure, IAS annual review, IAS or faculty promotion, and post-tenure review).
*Note: Generally, the department/program instrument must be identical for all faculty/IAS and courses. Faculty/IAS cannot individualize the measure. Different instruments may exist (built upon the common items) for lab courses, practicum courses, and separate prefixes (programs) if necessary.
Generally speaking, the departmental administrative assistant (ADA) is the primary departmental individual to interface with the SEI software. Both the chair and the ADA are given administrative access to the software.
The Provost’s Office will provide electronic notification to chairs/ADAs regarding deadlines for setting department-level parameters. In the absence of any departmental changes, all courses loaded for the department (see below) will have an SEI email sent to students.
B. How the instrument is administered - Students
Students receive an email for each class in which they are enrolled with a link to the SEI measure. Students receive reminders (e.g., every 72 hours for a total of 4-5 emails) if they have not completed the SEI. If they have completed the SEI, no additional reminders are sent.
C. How the instrument is administered - Instructors
Instructors may wish to provide time in class for students to complete the assessment and remind them to bring their smartphones, tablets and/or laptops to class on that date.
a. Providing time at the beginning of class is best.
b. Instructors/faculty should step outside of the classroom for ~10 minutes during the evaluation.
c. Students who do not have the electronic means to complete the SEI can complete at a later date.
Research has indicated several key ways to improve response rates.
- Instructors are encouraged to have a statement in their syllabi (such as the one in italics below) that encourages students to complete the SEI assessment. It is also helpful to remind students verbally in class about the process in addition to providing class time to complete the measure. Finally, instructors should explain why a high response rate is important and/or give examples of how the SEI results are used (generally or specifically by the instructor or department).
- Student Evaluation of Instruction (SEI) Administration
UWL conducts student evaluations electronically. Approximately 2 weeks prior to the conclusion of a course, you will receive an email at your UWL email address directing you to complete an evaluation for each of your courses. Time will be provided for students to complete the evaluation in class. Electronic reminders will be sent if you do not complete the evaluation. The evaluation will include numerical ratings and, depending on the department, may provide options for comments. The university takes student feedback very seriously and the information gathered from student evaluations is more valuable when a larger percentage of students complete the evaluation. Please be especially mindful to complete the surveys.
D. Timing of reviews/emails
For the vast majority of UWL courses (including all regular semester 14 week and 7 week courses and all summer and winter courses), the first email to the students with the link to the SEI measure will be sent 14 days prior to the last day of the course and remain open for that time period. Instructors will receive an electronic notification from the Provost’s Office in advance of the time when SEIs open in order to help plan for administration.
Questions regarding SEI administration for courses that are “dynamic” in terms of when they are offered, should be directed to IT with the Provost as the final authority regarding the administration of electronic SEIs for those courses. Special exceptions to the timing of electronic SEIs may be made for extraordinary conditions (with the Provost as the final authority) such as a situation in which students would have to wait more than 2 weeks after a course to complete the evaluation and/or would have already received final grades in a course.
E. Who is reviewed
All UWL instructors teaching credit-bearing courses associated with degree-granting programs will have their courses reviewed each academic semester. Department policy determines the review of non-credit courses and intersession courses. Courses taught by TAs or GAs will need to be handled by the department.
F. Which courses are reviewed
All face-to-face (F2F) and online courses taught through UWL at the graduate or undergraduate level [with the exception of independent study courses and courses with a total duration less than 2 weeks]. Departments that wish to have an SEI administered for a course in the exception category may add the course if they so choose by working with IT. The responses from courses with a very small number of students (<5) should be handled carefully so that the student(s) is not identifiable. For this reason, departments may choose not to assess courses with 5 or fewer students.
Courses with special circumstances:
- ESL and IPSE (reviewed as above with UWL degree courses)
- MBA - Consortium - not included (reviewed through the consortium)
- Continuing Education (CEE courses including dual credit courses) - not included (reviewed through CEE)
- Consortial Programs (through CEE) courses - not included (reviewed through the programs)
- Distance Education courses taught by non-UWL instructors - not included (reviewed by their home units).
- UWL300 (the prefix used as a “hold” for students completing courses for UWL study abroad)
G. Intersession Courses
All courses during the regular academic semester are reviewed (following guidelines in “B” above). For intersession courses (winter and summer) the courses will be loaded for SEI administration and IF a department does not wish for some/all of these courses to be assessed, the department will be responsible for setting the software.
In the winter and summer, departments (not the Provost’s Office) are responsible for notifying their instructors and communicating to students regarding the SEI process. However, if the SEI measure is set to be administered, all students enrolled in the course will receive the link.
H. Known Issues
The following issues associated with SEIs are dependent on the software associated with administering the measures. How each situation is handled is described within the documentation associated with the software developed for UWL users.
- Cross-listed courses
- Single courses with more than one instructor
- Single courses with more than one instructor where one is a staff member (NIAS)
- Combined sections in WINGS
The Provost’s Office provides policy-related guidance to departments, whereas IT provides the technical help associated with setting up the administration of the measure. Full documentation of the latter is available off the Provost’s website and housed through IT. The Provost, in consultation with IT and SEC, and informed by data, can make administrative decisions associated with the SEIs when needed (e.g., how many reminders a student receives).
IV. Reporting of SEIs
As the purpose of SEIs is to help inform teaching, in addition to use in personnel review, SEI results (including open ended comments when applicable) must be reported to individual instructors/faculty no later than four weeks after the date that grades are due for the semester being assessed and prior to the start of the next semester during the academic year.
SEIs are reported to individual instructors/faculty in the following manner:
- All SEIs are reported to one decimal point (e.g., 3.4 rather than 3 or 3.44)
- By each individual course - the motive item interpolated median and the interpolated median of the composite index of the other five items. The composite index is calculated as an interpolated median from the raw data associated with five items (not the mean or median of the medians of each item.)
- For the semester - the interpolated median motive score across each course and the interpolated median composite index across each course. The semester motive score and composite index are calculated as interpolated medians based on the overall data associated with the individual instructor (not the mean of the medians of each course).
- IAS - instructional academic staff-- for the semester: the interpolated median motive score for all IAS and the interpolated median composite index score for all IAS in the department.
- Ranked Faculty -- for the semester: the interpolated median motive score for all ranked faculty and the interpolated median composite index score for all ranked faculty in the department.
In addition, when completing forms for personnel reviews that are transmitted beyond the department, the following data are reported to the instructor and reviewers.
- IAS - rank based on SEIs compared to other IAS.
- Faculty - rank based on SEIs compared other ranked faculty.
- Ties should be shown as follows:
|Instructor D||4.2||4.4||2 (tied for second)|
|Instructor A||4.2||4.4||2 (tied for second)|
Teaching Assignment Information (TAI) Form
For most personnel review processes, SEI data are required to be reported in the TAI form. The TAI provides a listing of each course an instructor taught by semester with the corresponding grade distribution information. Departments download the TAI for personnel review purposes and may modify it to provide sparing additional context for SEI data if needed (e.g., a team taught course) or add SEI data if the course taught is not noted on the TAI. In rare cases, such as the latter, the aggregated scores should not be recalculated but the individual course data should be presented. However, personnel committee letters are the primary appropriate place for contextualizing information for SEIs (see below). The TAI form requires the motive score per course, the aggregated composite/core score per class, the interpolated median motive score across courses and the interpolated median composite score for the semester (for that instructor), the appropriate departmental benchmarking data (faculty or IAS comparison), and the rank information (faculty or IAS comparison).
Interpretation Guidelines for Instructors, Reviewers and Departments
SEIs can help represent one form of teaching effectiveness evidence, particularly when analyzed for overall trend and magnitude patterns across courses and semesters. Best practices suggest such personnel decisions should be based on at least five episodes of courses over a two-year period, if possible, more if the courses have fewer than 15 students. Trivial differences across courses should be ignored. All SEI measures are subject to error and therefore none perfectly measure the construct of interest. Depending on the standard error of measurement, differences of a few tenths may not reflect real differences in teaching effectiveness, but instead reflect measurement error. Differences of less than a tenth of a point are extremely unlikely to represent real differences in teaching effectiveness. Therefore, SEI scores are only reported to one decimal point. In general, it is recommended that absolute cut-off scores (e.g., “SEI scores must be above 3.5 for a candidate to be considered for tenure”) be avoided for the same reason.
Departmental personnel review letters can help provide context to reviewers by placing an individual instructor’s SEIs in context. The role and function of the course in the curriculum is helpful to know (e.g., general education, required vs. elective) as is the relationship of a particular instructor’s SEIs to SEIs for the same course taught by other instructors. When an instructor’s SEIs show a marked change (e.g., a semester when the overall SEIs are markedly lower than past semesters) and the cause can be reasonably assumed (a new teaching strategy was employed, a personal health challenge was present), some basic context provided by the personnel committee or chair is relevant and helpful.
V. Record Keeping
The data associated with SEIs need to conform to UW System Data Retention Policy. SEI data are used for personnel review and must, therefore, be retained for seven years.
Departmentsbear the primary responsibility for the retrieval, distribution, and archiving of SEI reports at the conclusion of each semester, no later than four weeks after the day that grades are due.
ITS will provide designated HR staff with the ability to generate required reports for SEIs. HR can generate reports as needed to meet business needs. IT will work with the vendor/system/database to purge records older than seven years in July of each calendar year. This will be done with proper notification to HR and Academic Affairs.
Archived data will only be accessed for use in personnel review associated with retention, tenure, IAS annual review, IAS or faculty promotion, and post-tenure review and only under extraordinary circumstances when the department has exhausted all attempts to retrieve the reports within the department. In order to reduce potentially spurious requests to HR, only a Dean or Provost can request data on behalf of a department through HR for up to seven years.
In the event that a change of vendor occurs, IT will secure any data from the past seven years.
Faculty Senate SEI documentation - 2007
Note: The 2007 documentation had a significant literature review on correlates of SEIs that was not included for this updated policy document.
SEI Related Links
Previous SEI Documentation (Faculty Senate)