SGA discusses course evaluations

by Stephany Christie / Beacon Staff • October 9, 2014

Two top administrators discussed a Student Government Association initiative to improve academic policies during the group’s meeting on Tuesday.

Michaele Whelan, chief academic officer, and Lori Beth Way, senior advisor for undergraduate education, focused on course evaluations during this meeting, but said they plan to continue discussing the 29-page proposal in subsequent meetings. 

The academic initiative addresses issues in nine academic departments and three areas of academics including attendance policies, course evaluations, and registration. Vice President Kassandra King, a senior political communication major, said the document was created by the SGA at the beginning of this semester and is made up of specific suggestions for the college to improve. SGA gave Way, Whelan, and other academic department heads the initiative before the meeting to help the college plan for the 2014-2015 school year and the future. At the meeting on Tuesday, members discussed the initiative in person for the first time with Way and Whelan. 

Whelan said the Office of Academic Affairs is currently trying to improve course evaluations and raise awareness so more students’ voices can be heard in the process. 

“I think many students don’t know how it’s used,” said Whelan. “We use it quite seriously in reviewing faculty and in tenure and promotion.”

Currently, course evaluations only had one component: to review the faculty member in question. Way discussed a new draft currently being created for the course evaluation, which will include three components: evaluation of the faculty member, evaluation of the course, and evaluation of the student and how they think they responded in the course. 

The SGA members gave feedback to Way and Wheelan and made suggestions about how to make course evaluations appeal to more Emerson students. 

“For me personally and for a lot of other students, the course evaluations seem more like a chore,” said Michael Moccio a junior writing, literature, and publishing major and senator. “Looking at emails from course evaluations in the past, they state that ‘faculty members benefit from this, the college benefits from this,’ but we need to reframe this to understand what students benefit from this.”