Procedures for the Administration and Use of the Bowdoin Course Questionnaires1

Note: The mechanism for administering these forms has changed to an online process. The language below reflects the former paper process and the former name (student opinion forms).

Distribution and Collection of Forms

The Dean's Office will send out the student course opinion forms to instructors two weeks before the end of classes. Faculty members will distribute the forms during the last week of classes, allowing at least 15 minutes for completion. A designated student will collect and later take the forms to the office of the Dean for Academic Affairs. The instructor should hand out the forms, then should leave the room while students complete them. Instructors also distributing individual or departmental forms should allow adequate extra time or distribute them at a different time or date.

Summary and Dissemination of Data

After receiving the completed forms, the Dean's office will make copies of the forms and return the originals to the individual instructors for their own review and records after faculty have turned in semester grades. The Dean's office will maintain the second copies on file for five years for use in evaluation processes.

Upon receipt the Dean's office will have the numerical data tabulated and prepare standard statistical summaries for each course which will include summary distribution of ratings and average ratings for each faculty member's courses, but will not include average ratings for departments, divisions of the College, or decile rankings. The Dean will then use the statistical information to help guide selection of which forms to read in detail for individual student comments.

Each instructor will receive the statistical summary of numerical ratings for his or her courses to review in conjunction with his or her copies of the form that include individual student comments.

In order to provide Department chairs and Program directors information that can assist in monitoring the curriculum and be helpful in collegial efforts to improve teaching, the Dean's office will also circulate a confidential copy of the statistical summaries of the forms to the Department chair. Statistical summaries of courses offered in or cross-listed with interdisciplinary programs and of courses that are required for an interdisciplinary major will also be sent to the directors of those programs. Such statistical summaries should prompt chairs to initiate discussions with faculty about his/her teaching and to seek out further information, when needed, to provide pedagogical support to colleagues. Chairs and Directors will be able to review the written comments of students on the forms on file in the Dean's office.

Use of Information

These forms and their statistical summaries provide only one source of information for evaluating the quality of a faculty member's teaching. Other sources of information include, for example, course materials and syllabi, self-assessments of teaching, and retrospective reviews of teaching by past students, or peer visits. Further, the Faculty has made clear that for evaluation purposes, the statistical information from these forms should only be used in combination with the written forms themselves.

The Dean and the Departments (or in the case of joint appointments, review committees) will use the forms in conjunction with the statistical information as part of the review process for making reappointment, tenure, and promotion decisions. They may be used in periodic reviews of tenured professors. The Dean will also use this information in making merit pay decisions.

Ideally, the student responses that these forms summarize will help to prompt discussions of pedagogy. It is the particular responsibility of chairs to initiate such discussions when they perceive, based on the statistical summaries or other information, that there may be problems in a course or courses.

Instructor Response

After reviewing the summary data and the forms, the instructor may write in a timely manner to the Dean and department chair/program director indicating any special circumstances that may have affected student opinions of either the course or the instructor.

1 Previously called Student Opinion Forms, approved by the faculty 20 May 2002 (02-5-8).