Volume 93, Issue 96

Thursday, March 30, 2000


Anybody for a poetry contest?

Time to test the teachers

Time to test the teachers

Maybe its about time the students at Western went on strike.

As I'm sure most of you know – though all of you should know – the University of Western Ontario's Faculty Association and administration are locked in another bitter bitchfest over contract technicalities and other such things the average student couldn't care less about.

The relatively young faculty association and the grey-beards in administration have been working tirelessly, I'm sure, to hammer out an agreement for quite some time now, to no avail. Apparently the failure of negotiations to produce an agreement has angered a few faculty members and the dreaded "s" word has been springing from their mouths.

While these two sides are bickering back and forth, I would like to request a moment of their time to consider the following proposal. I'm sure both sides, especially UWOFA, will object long and loud to my bold vision, but they cannot refute what it would accomplish.

It all begins with those goofy teacher evaluations. Every year students fill these things out and yet, in the eyes of many, they accomplish nothing. I'm sure professors and faculties look them over and consider the feedback, but the evaluation results seem to hold little power.

Of course, as you're told when the evaluations are distributed, the numerical survey results are published on the internet for all to see. What they don't point out is where exactly you can find them on the web site.

Instead of a direct link, or even any degree of publicity, they are buried in a sub-directory where the average student is unlikely to look. For those of you who don't know, click on "Documents and Data" (way at the bottom) and then find the "Course Evaluations" section.

The whole system stinks of ineffectiveness. So here's what we do.

First of all, the results should be published in a far more open and obvious area. Be it The Gazette, The London Free Press, Western News, or by merely putting a direct link on Western's home page, the results need to be made easily accessible.

Secondly, instead of just giving individual results for each professor, organized by courses, we total up the results and rank the professors from best to worst. Want to know how good your prof is? Just check the rankings and see exactly how they measure up when compared to their counterparts.

Here's where things get sticky. To ensure that Western continues to be the home of only the best professors, we take the bottom 10 or 15 professors and give them warnings. Next time they show up at the bottom of the list, they're fired. Yes, that's right, canned on the spot. No union rules to keep them on staff, no tenure or contract hooey, no research grants taken into account – if the students deem them unsuitable to teach, they're gone.

Now, just to be fair and make sure no profs are unfairly treated by vindictive students, each "fired" prof would be allowed to appeal before a jury of four students and four faculty members – majority rules, no hung juries allowed.

Suddenly, instead of just a reason to waste 20 minutes of class time, these evaluations would become meaningful and important.

I know faculty and administrators will lay claim to how seriously these tests are taken behind closed doors but to be honest, I don't believe them. Sorry, I'm just not buying what they're selling.

Sure it's a hard stance. And I'm sure both administration and faculty would cry long and hard before such a plan would be put in place. But it's about time we made faculty directly accountable.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000