From the Director: February 2017

March 14, 2017 / By: Dr. Ann Johnson, Director of Faculty Development & Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement

Five reasons to love the new IDEA

If you haven’t heard yet: the IDEA student feedback system is moving to an online platform for administration beginning this summer. With the transition, we get access to some new and improved features, and I think you’re going to like them as much as I do. We have some education sessions planned for April 4 and 11; faculty and staff are encouraged to attend. Getting up to speed is especially crucial for anyone teaching a summer course because that’s when we’ll begin implementation.

What does “online administration” mean? Students in your class will receive a link to an online version of the student feedback form. There will be a window of time (a week to 10 days; the Committee on Teaching Evaluation is currently working this out) for students to complete the form, and they’ll receive reminder emails automatically.

What about response rates?

Be reassured: You can continue the practice of having students fill out the form in class because the new platform is compatible with all mobile devices. Go ahead and designate class time for students to fill out the form. They’ll simply do it on their smart phones instead of using paper.

Here are my 5 top reasons for loving the new IDEA:In Fall 2016 there were 29,000 paper IDEA forms processed.

  1. Last Fall we sent 29,000 paper forms to IDEA headquarters, shipping 8 boxes weighing 550 pounds back and forth. The online format is definitely more in line with our sustainability goals.
  2. We will have access to the newly revised set of learning objectives. Examples of new or modified objectives are “Developing knowledge and understanding of diverse perspectives, global awareness, or other cultures” and “Learning to apply knowledge and skills to benefit others or serve the public good.” These not only reflect our institutional values, but better align our learning objectives with AAC&U values rubrics already in use for assessment purposes. I also believe that graduate faculty will find more to appreciate about IDEA with these new objectives in place.
  3. Faculty will receive their feedback much more quickly and efficiently (after submitting final grades, naturally). Feedback data can also be downloaded in PDF format – no more need to scan forms to submit for review or promotion.
  4. The online format for faculty to view feedback is a giant improvement over the paper forms. It allows you to analyze feedback data interactively. It also eases access to the great report resources IDEA produces, helping faculty turn student feedback into quick ideas for improving teaching and learning.
  5. No more downward adjustment of raw scores. For a variety of reasons, the IDEA folks have determined that upward adjustment is still a reasonable step, but downward adjustment of scores is not warranted empirically. So those who teach large classes with unmotivated students still benefit from adjustment, but teachers of smaller, motivated groups are not penalized. This is good news.

Want more information?

The Committee on Teaching Evaluation is working on disseminating more detail, and in Faculty Development we are gearing up to help faculty use the system effectively. Feel free to contact me or your representative on the CTE.