High Response to SEIs Recorded

Almost three-quarters of students filled out the Student Evaluation of Instructor (SEI) which concluded this week. The results will help faculty adjust their teaching and possibly boost their chances at promotion, administration said.

The fall 2012 semester brought the highest response rate, 72 percent, since the online SEI was available in the fall 2011 semester, which had a 71% response rate, and a slight increase from the spring 2012 semester which had a 69 percent response rate, Dr. Jacqueline Andrews, assistant vice president for Institutional Research and Planning, said.

The SEI is an anonymous online questionnaire filled with 12 standard questions and 10 optional questions that can be customized at the professor’s discretion. It was offered from Dec. 3 to Dec. 12 and was accessible through my.newpaltz.edu. Professors are not permitted to see students’ responses until grades are submitted, meaning that a student’s opinion will have no bearing on their grade.

Fall 2012 is the third major semester since the switch from paper to online SEI forms, which saved SUNY New Paltz $30,000, Dr. Janice Anderson, associate professor and chair member of the Academic Affairs Committee, said.

Faculty are finding it difficult to for students to understand the importance of the evaluations and Andrews said the “most powerful incentive for students to respond to the SEI is their own professors’ encouragement.”

In addition to professors encouraging their students to fill out the forms, the Office of Institutional Research and Planning (OIR) also promotes the SEIs by emailing students every day and faculty every third day. The OIR posts fliers and table tents around campus with a photo of a professor saying “I’m Listening.” The SEI time period is also posted on the academic calendar, the calendar of events and faculty are encouraged to put it on their syllabi, Andrews said.

Anderson said that the switch to online forms of SEIs is possibly the reason for the increase in responses.

The information collected from the SEIs helps make decisions regarding payroll increases and promotions for professors, tenure and the re-hiring of adjunct instructors, according to Andrews.

The President, the Provost, the Dean and, most importantly, professors will be looking at the most recent SEIs.

“Faculty obsess over the SEIs,” Anderson said.

Professors need to know what should be changed and what works the best for students, Anderson said, so both faculty and students can have a better upcoming spring semester.

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