Why faculty evaluations are not effective?

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By Abdul Wahid

Faculty evaluation by students is considered as one of the most effective tool in ensuring the quality in higher education. It is intended to provide informed assessment of teaching skills and competencies of a particular instructor. Higher education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan back in 2005 established Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), with the aim of enforcing good practices in education and encouraging continuous improvement in quality in higher education.

To materialize their aims, the QAA further initiated Quality enhancement Cells (QEC) in each HEC’s recognized institution. HEC’s Quality Assurance agency provided self-assessment manual to QECs for the execution of their objectives. The manual has the approval of country’s renewed academicians which explicitly has emphasized the faculty evaluations by students for all the courses that they are being taught by their instructors.

Ever since, the faculties and departments are conducting such evaluations. However, the efficiency of these evaluations in ensuring quality education is often questioned. Extensive evidence could be found in universities, proving the fact that the evaluations are deficient to considerably a large extent, if not totally remained useless. Students often think of these evaluations merely as a course of formal bureaucratic proceedings.

Upon receiving these evaluations preformat, they start filling it without even the least interest they require. Their lack of interest could be explained in various terms, i.e. in the terms incapability of our education setup to produce any positive outcomes as result of these evaluations. Students also have been found complaining that the preformat are being provided to them by the time when they would’ve to take their terminal exams.

In such circumstances, they either have to play sincerely and afford stern grading or to give the fake yet pleasant responses and attain the grades they desire. In addition, such evaluations have accelerated the already increasing rate of grade inflation – the rise in students’ grades without the correspondence of the knowledge, skills, and abilities they have.

Student grade instructors on the basis of grades they had/would’ve to receive from instructors in exams. Hence both the instructors and students are found to be caged by the fear of being graded poorly. They prefer soft responses over hard ones by easing each other jobs which results in the appearance of ill- informed evaluations and the fake grades recorded on transcripts.

Here, the cases of sincerely filled evaluations by students should not be overlooked, but even if we contemplate them, the threat of inaccuracy still remains stagnant. Established research on quality of education suggests that student’s feedback is dominantly influenced by his/her individual differences.

Religious and political orientations, difference of learning styles and ethnic biasness serve as systematic way of judging the skill and effectiveness of teacher who may hold a particular religious, political or ethnic affiliation. Consequently, the feedback full of biasness loses the attention of administrators and policy makers to utilize them in bringing out quality reforms in education.

The faculty promotions policy of education system is also contributing to the ineffectiveness of these evaluations. For instance, in Higher education institutions, the upward mobility of instructor is associated with number of publications the instructor has published. Cognizant of the fact that they do not need to rely on students’ feedback for their promotions. The faculty may deem them insignificant and hence the attempts to ensure quality in teaching proved themselves as inoperable and useless.

The policies regarding the quality assurance in higher education through faculty evaluation should be informed of these multifaceted loopholes. Secondly, HEC and HEI (higher education institutes) are required to consider these evaluations as significant while setting the criteria for faculty promotions.

The writer is post-graduate student at Sociology department of International Islamic University, Islamabad and pursuing specialization in Sociology of education. He can be reached at awqureshi9@gmail.com

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