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Academic Views

Ryerson arbitration award on student evaluations significant for Associations nationally

A recent arbitration award on the use of student questionnaires for teaching evaluations of Ryerson Faculty Association members may have impacts on how these instruments are handled at other institutions for measuring teaching effectiveness. More information is available in an article by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) available online here entitled “Significant arbitration decision on the use of student questionnaires for teaching evaluations”. It includes a summary of the award and links to the expert reports commissioned by the Ryerson Faculty Association and OCUFA.

The article outlines the recent arbitration award between the Ryerson Faculty Association and Ryerson University which “has established an important precedent for faculty associations, and lends support to others who have been arguing that student questionnaires are deeply problematic instruments for the purpose of evaluating faculty members’ teaching effectiveness.”

It is our understanding that the University of Calgary administration is in the midst of a review of the Universal Student Ratings Instrument (USRI). It should be noted that this endeavour began prior to the release of the arbitrator’s report, nevertheless, many of the overarching concerns raised through the arbitration on the validity of student evaluations as a measure of teaching effectiveness are shared by the Faculty Association. The Faculty Association Board of Directors met with Leslie Reid, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning), at its meeting in May 2018 to discuss, as an initial step, some of the concerns with the current instrument and how it is used. The Association will continue to monitor this matter and we encourage academic staff to provide feedback and input on these teaching instruments when provided the opportunity to do so.



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