The University’s faculty, more than anything else, is integral in molding Lasallian students into Christian achievers for God and country. To ensure that DLSU’s faculty members are sufficiently equipped with the skills necessary to do exactly this, the University has put feedback systems in place to ensure that students get exactly what they bargained for.
The lowdown on faculty evaluation
At the end of every term, students are asked to log into their My LaSalle (MLS) accounts to accomplish the required faculty evaluation forms. These forms, which are released a few weeks before the trimester ends, assess professors in terms of mastery of the subject matter, classroom management and organization, student-teacher relationships and teaching style, among others.
Once students have accomplished the forms, the Institutional Testing and Evaluation Office (ITEO) collates the results, which are then forwarded to the Vice Chancellor for Academics (VCA), the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Faculty Resource and Development (AVFCRD) and the other offices involved.
Faculty members, however, are regularly evaluated not only by students, but also by co-faculty members and their respective department chairs. As Dominador Bombongan, head of the AVFCRD, shares, “A lot of the inputs from student evaluations are discussed in the academics council.”
Consistently low ratings
The battery of evaluations that professors are regularly subjected to help in weeding out poorly performing teachers from an otherwise outstanding faculty. Faculty Association President Dante Leoncini reveals that a professor that consistently receives poor student evaluations is first observed and assessed by the respective department chair before any decisions are passed.
“We really have to look at the different factors that may lead to poor evaluations. Some professors are very smart, very talented, but they are not able to convey their knowledge so well in their lectures,” he furthers.
If, after concerned faculty members are briefed, the following assessments still yield poor results, the faculty in question is penalized by non-renewal of teaching load if part-time, or by denying them promotions if full-time.
Towards a stronger student stance
Despite the fact that students are given the opportunity to evaluate several of their professors before the term comes to a close, it is not uncommon for many to breeze through the evaluation forms without giving much thought into the ratings given. When the chance for constructive and objective feedback is ignored, students lose their ground in the entire scheme.
“We have to train the students to start taking faculty evaluations more seriously,” Leoncini says, stressing the need for students to place more effort and objectivity in evaluating their professors. He adds that students should be taking advantage of the boxes allotted for comments and suggestions in the latter part of the online evaluation form, where they can expound on points they feel a professor needs to improve on.
Bombongan shares the same sentiments as Leoncini, and emphasizes that student evaluations are given more premium compared to the other means of faculty assessment. “[Chair and peer evaluations] only occur once or twice during the trimester. Students, on the other hand, actually have the power to tell [the admin] on a regular basis that this faculty member is not performing well,” he relates.
He adds, “That is why the ITEO gives us copies of these evaluations, so that from there, we can make certain interventions for our students. So kung hindi ‘yan sineseryoso ng estudyante, hindi namin mabibigyan ng correct intervention [If students do not take it seriously, we will not be able to provide the correct intervention].”
Apart from the termly ITEO evaluations, students are likewise encouraged to be more participative and voice out concerns through other formal means. Letters to the department chairs, for example, which state complaints directed at faculty members or curricula and rationales behind these complaints, as well as proposed resolutions, may be written and passed for evaluation. Students are thus urged to familiarize themselves with guidelines and protocols related to common concerns such as excessive absences, extended faculty leaves for conferences, the high frequency of low grades, and make-up classes.
“There are some problems we cannot identify without the report of students,” Leoncini says, “Hindi pwede yung pag-uusapan na lang. Dalhin ang mga bagay na ito sa taong may magagawa [It should not just end with discussion, this should be brought up to the people who can do something about it].”