ICES forms highlight effective educators, suggest improvements

By Kate Szyzska

Everyone knows the drill at the end of the semester: the professor or teaching assistant hands out ICES forms, asks for a volunteer to bring the forms to a campus mailbox and leaves the room for 10 minutes while students evaluate their instructor. But he impact that these forms have on educators and courses at the University go beyond a simple survey.

Instructor and Course Evaluation System, or ICES, forms have a variety of uses at the end of a semester. One of these uses is changing an instructor’s status, said Chris Migotsky, head of measurement and evaluation at the Center for Teaching and Excellence.

ICES are used for promotion as well as granting tenure to professors, said Migotsky. Positive ICES evaluations can result in salary increases and teaching awards as well.

These forms are also used to improve University courses.

“Course improvement is used in virtually every division on campus,” said Migotsky. “I wish that faculty used these forms more in course improvement.”

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Student responses on ICES forms give teachers the feedback they need to alter a course so students learn more effectively, he said.

“Generally if it was a good teacher I’ll go through the form fast,” said Valarie McConville, sophomore in AHS. “If I think the teacher did a good job, I’ll give them a good score.”

A poor ICES evaluation may also be slightly detrimental to an educator, said Migotsky.

“Anything that can help an educator can in a sense have a negative impact,” he added. “I think students are very sincere (with these evaluations).”

There are many other methods used to test the effectiveness of an instructor, such as observations in the classroom. However, a poor ICES grade can be a red flag, Migotsky said.

“If a teacher wasn’t clear with grades or the material that would be on the test or didn’t stick to the syllabus, I will generally give them a lower score,” McConville said.

Instructors may also post their scores online at the student senate Web site so students may access the overall scores, but posting is purely voluntary.

Migotsky hopes that ICES forms in the future can be accessed online. Students could fill out the form from their own computer via e-mail during the last three weeks of the semester.

“ICES online will save paper and have a quicker turnaround,” Migotsky said. “The future we are looking at is ICES online.”