Friday, November 18, 2011

Sid From Santa Fe and the Student Eval Lottery.

From our Dean this morning:

This is an email reminder that online student evaluations for Fall classes will be available for students to complete beginning November 18th and will close on December 7th. Students will be sent an email to their college account with a link to the survey. To encourage student participation several $200 bookstore vouchers and one Mac laptop will be randomly distributed to students who complete their surveys. The more surveys that they complete the greater their odds of winning! Winners will be determined after grades are posted.


  1. Okay, but in fairness, they are not being bribed into giving particular types of responses. All they need to do is fill the thing out. Granted, the percentage of thoughtful responses is likely to decrease. If the absolute number of thoughtful responses goes up, and we are allowed to ignore non-thoughtful ones, then this bribing might work. But I think we can doubt that this will be the result.

    Indeed, by increasing the number of participants, the numbers bullshit will seem more significant. So when your 78.3% rating on "makes good use of available technology in the classroom" goes up to 84.1%, your dean can know that it really means something.

  2. Did the email mention that there any requests for classroom maintenance, graduate student stipends or, gasp, faculty raises, are out of the question? There is simply no money available.

  3. @Beaker - I just got a LONG mass e-mail from my admin about all the great stuff they're rolling out for 2012 about academic excellence, community of scholars, learning, retention, completion, etc. All kinds of events scheduled, initiatives unfolding, etc. Not ONE word about pay. Not one. Pay has not changed for years, despite inflation.

  4. @AdjunctSlave: Hey, this is fun...we're in the same boat: leaky, one oar in the water. Yet the coxswain insists "Forward!"

  5. @BC - Like that old Soviet joke - I'm sure Strelnikov knows it - about the great Soviet train rolling through history. During the time that Brezhnev is the conductor, the engine breaks down and, instead of shooting people to get the train moving again, like Stalin had done, he orders the curtains closed and people to rock and sway as if the train were still moving. (The joke ends with Gorby simply opening the curtains, but still insisting that people rock and sway as if the train were moving.)

  6. Yeah, I know that joke. A funnier Brezhnev joke is the one where he is talking to cosmonauts and tells them that their next mission is to land on the Sun. When they respond that they will be vaporized by the heat, Brezhnev says "Don't worry, the landing will take place at night!"

  7. Sid, when our dean found out that some faculty were offering extra credit for completing on line instructor surveys, she put the kibosh on it immediately. (we can tell that a student has completed the survey, but not see the student's responses). Anyway, it's a violation of ethics rules in our state. Seems like the lottery thing is tap dancing on a similar line.

  8. Brezhnev sure did had a sinister air about him. It was those bushy eyebrows. You could just seem him saying, "One more joke about my eyebrows, and I push ze button!"

    @Sid from Santa Fe: It bodes ill when the game show of student evaluations needs to be promoted by another game show.

  9. @annie oakley

    For my online sections, I offer a small extra credit bump to the entire class if --and only if-- there is a 100% response rate. Our survey system shows me count and percentage of respondents, but not who...

    I do this with two caveats:
    (1) I will NEVER apply this extra credit to move a failing grade to a passing one.

    (2) they will have to take me at my word about the response rate.

    Haven't had 100% response rate yet.

    There is some lesson of utilitarianism in this, but I'm not sure what it is.


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