Editor’s Note: Change is on the horizon. In this three-part series, we’ll talk to three instrumental members of the faculty evaluation process to share what you can expect from course evaluations in the future.

Meet Dr. Shih-Ting Lee, Adjunct Professor of Student Development and TLED’s New Manager of Faculty Evaluation!

By Alexa K. Haverlah, Content Marketing Intern, ACC Teaching & Learning Excellence Division

After seven years working as an instructional designer, Dr. Shih-Ting Lee was asked to manage the transition from paper course evaluations to online evaluations when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out last year.

Lee has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction (with a specialization in Instruction Technology) as well as a Project Management certification, and the transition to an online system for course evaluations was completed in just a month between the spring and summer of 2020.

Through this project, Lee discovered it had been several years since ACC’s system was upgraded and longer since changes were made to the faculty evaluation process. As the College adapted to a fully remote setting, the pandemic provided the opportunity to make improvements.

Lee’s new role as Manager of Faculty Evaluation brings her two worlds together, she says. As an instructional designer, she only worked closely with faculty and as an instructor at ACC, she wants to make sure students’ voices are heard and their comments are read.

Lee is currently working with two Shared Governance Working Groups to redesign the entire faculty evaluation process. Theresa Glenn, Associate Professor of Communications, and Gale Spear, Professor of Child Care & Development, will share more about their roles and future changes in the following parts of this series.

Before the online course evaluation system was implemented, the evaluation form was dependent on multi-level approval. One form had to be passed from the evaluation committee to the department chair, dean, faculty member and back to the dean in order to have everyone sign off in the appropriate order.

An online repository would gather all the information in one central place, where involved parties can do their part and sign off in the right sequence. “We need an advanced technology, we need an online system,” says Lee. “No passing the PDFs around anymore.”

The online system implemented this past year during the pandemic showed a 36% increase in response rates. When course evaluation surveys were housed in Online Services, the response rate was 13%. In Fall 2020, the Faculty Evaluation Office sent out about 58,000 survey links and received a 49% response rate.

The zero response rates, the percentage of students who do not respond to the survey, show promising results as well. When the College used paper evaluation forms, 11% of students did not respond. The online system shows a 4% or lower zero response rate.

This achievement is in part attributed to the student and faculty communications and video teams who recruited students and faculty promoting participation in the surveys.

The new online system will make pulling data and reporting easier, adds Lee. When analyzing the data, Lee systematically observes the trends and follows patterns to let the data tell the story. She is less interested in single stories that may be outliers and are not representative of the bigger picture.

Lee understands negative ratings can impact faculty’s income or the number of courses they are scheduled to teach. “I’m aware that everything we do is tied to faculty’s livelihoods,” she says.

To alleviate suspicion and anxiety surrounding the new system, Lee is determined to communicate updates and expectations regularly and with full transparency. Faculty receive reminders and updates via email from Faculty Communications, and they can view the course evaluation webpages on TLED’s website and attend Open Forums, which are specifically designed as opportunities for stakeholder engagement. Questions can be directed to facultyevaluation@austincc.edu.

So far, only the online evaluation system has been approved, although Lee mentions the College will likely have the budget to purchase an online portfolio system for faculty members to host their portfolio materials. Supervisors will also be able to use the platform to provide feedback.

To learn more about the framework behind the evaluation redesign, stay tuned for part two of this series! Theresa Glenn, lead for the Faculty Evaluation/Portfolio working group, will talk about three foundational shifts faculty can expect for faculty evaluation.