All Posts Tagged With: "Accountability"
Prof. Pettigrew: student evaluations won’t help
A recent report from the Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter has got people talking about student teaching evaluations again. Hoo boy.
McCarter is concerned that evidence of teaching ability is not being taken into account when it comes to granting tenure and promotion to faculty. It’s a legitimate concern in theory. The problem is that this report takes student evaluations as a key method by which quality teaching should be measured. That’s trouble.
As the report rightly points out, the research on the usefulness of student evaluations is a subject of much disagreement. In fact, it’s actually even more hotly contested than the AG’s report admits. The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) insists, for instance, that such surveys cannot be taken as a measure of teaching effectiveness.
CAUT may be trying to protect the jobs of its members. Still, student evaluations, from the outset suffer from a basic flaw which is that they often fail to meet a very basic standard for any evaluation. That is, an evaluator should be qualified to evaluate. More specifically, the evaluator should be an expert on the subject, should be motivated to take the evaluation seriously, and should be a disinterested third party.
Prof. Pettigrew: You’ll just need to trust us.
The most attractive and least practical idea in the world of Canadian universities is the notion that universities should be accountable for what students are actually learning.
After all, if taxpayers are funding universities, shouldn’t they have some assurances that students are actually learning what they are supposed to be learning? For that matter, if parents are footing a big part of the bill, shouldn’t they have some assurances too? And what about students? If they are trying to build a future based on a university degree, why can’t they guarantee a potential employer that they have some real skills?
When it comes to learning, are we just supposed to take professors’ words for it?
I encounter such arguments frequently, most recently in this piece by Maureen Mancuso. Mancuso quite rightly notes that it is silly and reductive to see university education merely as an investment, but wonders, nevertheless, why we can’t seek some changes to make us more accountable.
Students currently need to meet with the VP Finance to see details
The University of Prince Edward Island Student Union says it will continue to keep the details of its budgets “for members only.” In other words, these pie charts with no figures attached are all that will remain posted on their website—the place where the public would normally expect to find details.
This comes after students demanded at a meeting last week that the union make their plans for spending easier to find, reports The Cadre.
That meeting resulted from a Facebook post that made the rounds. It said: “$700 of your dollars will go to the UPEISU over four years. Do you think that the SU budget should be accessible to the students and be able to see how they’re spending your money? Post this if you are concerned…”
Most student unions aren’t transparent about your cash
Details on student fees—that ever-growing list of mandatory payments tacked onto tuition bills, mainly by student unions—isn’t easy to find.
Students are often outraged when they do find out—often in their fourth year—that they’ve paid dozens of fees to causes they don’t support.
That’s why students at the University of Alberta recently offered a presentation called “Students’ Union Fees Used to Spread Hate,” during which the speakers argued that many students are unwittingly paying mandatory fees that go to the Alberta Public Interest Research Group, which supports the always-controversial—they say hateful—Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).