Improving the SRTEs
The dreaded and boring Student Rating of Teacher Effectiveness is making its rounds throughout classrooms across Penn State. The program was started all the way back in 1985, just about the time some of us college students were thinking about being born.
According to a document found on the program’s website, SRTEs are used by departments as an evaluation for promotion and tenure as well as an evaluation for annual performance reviews. Faculty are reported to use the SRTE as an evaluation for themselves as well as to drive personal improvement in teaching.
My interpretation of the student body’s general attitude towards the SRTEs can best be described as a lukewarm disdain of the entire process. Many students question whether the SRTEs are considered at all, whether or not professors even bother reading them, and whether professors actually put students’ suggestions into action.
I’ve got a few ideas on how to make SRTEs more valuable to everyone involved in the process. I realize that some of these ideas could be difficult to implement, but I thought it was important to list them anyway:
- Have students spend time filling out the SRTE, especially the written portion. Truthful and constructive feedback helps caring faculty improve themselves. I’m not quite sure how to motivate students to take the time to fill out the SRTE, but it would definitely be worthwhile.
- Have professors tailor SRTEs to their class, rather than use the standard template offered by the University. The first four sections of the scantron portion are University-mandated. Up to fifteen questions can be added by departments, and up to five can be chosen by professors from this list.
- Make the SRTE data public to Penn State students. Think of this as a “Rate My Professor” based on official data. This “open” type of data could help to motivate faculty to improve themselves as well as steer students towards the best professors and instructors.
.Have suggestions on how to improve the SRTEs? Leave a comment below.