Wednesday April 16, 2014

TRU senate approves student evaluations for every course

'There’s so much room for error'

Students will evaluate each and every course at Thompson Rivers University now that the university’s senate has approved a plan in principle.

TRU must now work out details on how the evaluations will occur — which proved a sticking point with senators who voted against the plan.

Senator Diane Henderson, a faculty member, introduced a motion to delay voting until more information is provided. The motion was defeated.

Henderson said she has nothing against students evaluating courses and faculty. She noted that she encourages hers to provide feedback frequently.

But she voiced concerns about the way the motion came to the table. Even in principle, the senate needed to know more information before it voted, said Henderson.

“It’s about something coming at us too quickly,” she said.

The university’s faculty association says its collective agreement states procedural changes should be up to departments within the university and the senate's plan violates the agreement. Union president Jason Brown reiterated this in a presentation prior to the vote.

Senator Cindy Ross Friedman said only 20 per cent of her science students took part in a pilot questionnaire. She’s worried feedback will be skewed if the trend continues with the evaluations.

“There’s so much room for error,” she said,

Friedman wants to know what will happen when a professor has a directed studies course with one student in it.

“If that course is to be evaluated, I’m going to know exactly who the student is,” she said.

Students on the senate approved of the evaluations. Trad Bahabri said the motion was to vote in principle. The process can be worked out later.

Provost Uli Scheck reminded senators these evaluations occur at universities across Canada.

Brown said he hoped the union is consulted as the evaluations are put together.

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