Teaching Assistant (TA) Evaluations
At the end of the Fall and Winter terms the Geography Department asks undergraduate students enrolled in our courses to provide their thoughts on the TA(s) for the course. We strongly encourage you to complete your TA's evaluation when you receive an email from our Graduate Administrator: email@example.com. Here are links to the winter 2011 TA evaluations.
Why is this useful and what happens to my (student) input?
The data (which does not include user ids) are viewed by: the Chair, the Grad Chair, Instructor and TAs to support the following:
Enhance/sustain a high quality student experience in our courses.
Provide feedback to TAs.
Help identify TAs worthy of a departmental (Pleva) TA award.
My TA only marked, why bother participating?
All TAs are evaluated even so-called "marking TAs". Though some questions will not apply to all TAs there is a response category for that. Many questions will be relevant regardless of the TAs' duties including: TA availability; fairness in grading; and quality of help provided. Student input is highly valued for all TA types.
We have moved from a paper-copy system to an online system because the online system is:
More efficient - to identify TA award nominees we need to explore all the data - potentially over 2500 surveys a year! Having the data in electronic format allows the speedy calculation of summary measures as required.
More confidential/anonymous - With the help of Information Technology Services, we have gone to great lengths to ensure student user ids/emails are not associated with responses. Instructors and TAs do not see who responded using our online system. However, an instructor administering a paper evaluation (the old system) could much more easily connect up the response with the student simply by looking at the response sheets as they are handed to the instructor (more on confidentiality/anonymity below).
Where is my email asking me to participate?
The email may have been marked as "spam" since it contains a link to the survey. This may be especially true if you autoforward your email to another email system (e.g., gmail) to read your uwo mail. Please set your spam filters on all email clients to allow all emails from firstname.lastname@example.org. Each student will receive up to three emails - the original and two reminders. Reminders are not sent if the survey has been completed. Participation is voluntary and will not affect your grade.
What about confidentiality/anonymity?
Though undergrad students are notified about participating in the evaluation by email - each respondent's email is not associated with their TA evaluation responses. Since Information Technology Services only gives Geography the responses without identifying information, we cannot connect responses with emails or userids. Thus, a student's response is anonymous as far as Instructors and TAs are concerned (see information about the draw below).
Why have a draw for two $50 gift certificates?
We want to ensure as many students participate as possible and the gift certificates are added incentive and to generate attention to the change in method of gathering the evaluations. Nevertheless, in the long-run we hope the non-monetary incentives are reason enough to participate and in the future we may stop the gift certificate draw. Currently, odds of winning are very good. Every completed survey will result in one entry into the draw. A student may be entered multiple times in the draw if they complete evaluations for multiple TAs (e.g., in different courses).
How can an email-based draw be confidential/anonymous?
Instructors and TAs cannot connect responses with students so in this sense it is anonymous. Information Technology Services does the random drawing for us - they send us two randomly drawn emails from among all those who responded in that term. The Graduate Administrator notifies the winners so is the only person in the department who is aware of the winners' email addresses. The Graduate Administrator is bound to keep the winners confidential and is not allowed to communicate the winners to anybody else unless the winner requests to waive confidentiality.
I don't want to be anonymous - e.g., my TA was great!
Of course students can express their praise and/or concerns to their TA in person. TAs tend to appreciate this direct approach - likewise, students should feel free to tell the instructor how they feel about the TA. Nevertheless, completing a TA evaluation is essential to ensure a student's opinions are put on "record" - this will have added benefit to the TA and the programs in Geography.
Please contact the Graduate Administrator with any questions regarding the graduate program.
Phone: 519-661-2111, Ext. 85033;