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April 05, 1974 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1974-04-05

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Eighty-Four Years of Editorial Freedom
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

Student and

faculty evaluation

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mi. 48104

News Phone: 764-0552


HRP: Above petty polities?

The rules demand winning which
causes a distinct ruthlessness among the
participants, but that in inherent in the
nature of the beast.
However, once the game is over - the
final vote tallied up - there should be
room for a little humility on the victor's
part. Not apparently so with the Human
Rights Party (HRP).
At a lame duck City Council session
held Tuesday, the day after the election,
HRP members in the audience openly
and bitterly derided Republican Council-
man William Colburn who lost a re-
election bid.
Admittedly, there is no love lost be-
tween HRP and the Republicans, per-
haps most of all with Colburn. But
those political differences aside, Colburn
did not deserve the kind of treatment he
received at that meeting.
Colburn lost his Fourth Ward seat to
Democrat James Kenworthy, as HRP re-
tained a position in the Second Ward
and spearheaded the successful drive to
re-instate a. $5 marijuana fine.
BUT COLBURN was assailed for alleg-
edly making a slur against hippies
and gay people after his loss became a
reality Monday night. Colburn, however,
never said what the HRP members ac-
cused him of saying. Quite obviously
they never bothered to check.
Then the party members launched into
a long diatribe against Colburn claiming
he epitomized everything wrong with the
straight, white, middle - class, male
world. That Colbprn's politics are con-
servative by Ann Arbor standards is true.
That Colburn mastered the roll of
News: Dan Biddle, Judy Ruskin, Tim
Schick, Steve Selbst, Chip Sinclair, Sue
Stephenson, David Whiting
Editorial Page: Brian Colgan, Paul Hask-
ins, Marnie Heyn I
Arts Page: David Blomquist, Sara Rimer
Photo Technician: Ken Fink

consummate politician - with all the
deviousness that the word connotes - is
equally true. The Council, in many peo-
ple's minds, is well rid of him.
Colburn played every legal angle to
cancel a city contract with Tribal Fund-
ing Inc., a business closely associated
with the Rainbow People's Party which
the Republicans despise.
He ran a subtle re-election campaign
in non-student areas implying he would
work for "the long-term residents"' in-
terests as opposed to those of the Uni-
versity student.
BUT HE WAS DEFEATED at the polls
by the people. That in itself is
enough. There was no justification for
attacking the man once he had been de-
HRP's action could only have been
born of frustration and disappointment
in dealing with a council that has been
unresponsive to the group's wishes.
There Is, of course, no' reason to pump
Colburn's hand and tell him what a fine
job he did and how sorry everyone is to
see him go. That response would be hypo-
Yet HRP has often claimed it is above
petty politics - the wheeling and deal-
ing and the "win-at-any-cost" mental-
ity. Nonetheless, Tuesday night the par-
ty sunk to the lowest levels of slimy
Colburn's loss should be celebrated and
cheered by the progressive elements in
this town, yet that celebration should
not be thrust upon the defeated.
matic view, HRP's demonstration
will simply alienate potential support
from voters who now waver between the
third party and the Democrats.
And in Monday's election, HRP won by
only 43 votes - hardly an overwhelm-
ing mandate. In fact without that paper-
thin edge, HRP would have shared Col-
burn's fate of political extinction.

HARVEY STUDENT c o uI d n' t
stand his science lecturer, Dr.
'X'. To put it quite bluntly, t h e
man was the most dull and uninter-
esting speaker Harvey had ever
heard. The fellow's monotone voice
alone could lull the audiende to
sleep - and did, in fact, put a
few people under every week. Af-
ter all, since Dr. 'X' didn't seem
to be able to present the material
in a readily understandable man-
ner, there was very little to en-
courage one to stay awake - or
to even come at all.
The last week of class, Dr. 'X'
handed out a "course evaluation
sheet" - a specially prepared,
computer-rdadable form on which
students could anonymously indi-
cate what they saw as the strength
and weakness of the class. iliar-
vey, like the others in his lec-
dture, dutifully filled it out -
carefully noting the course's weak-
er aspects - and returned it at
the final.
The next term, Harvey, feeling
somewhat sadistic, idly -sked a
friend for his opinion of Dr. 'X's'
new class. "Well," the friend re-
plied, "the lectures aren't t o o
bad. Dr. 'X' really does try to
be interesting. He said that he'd
read the evaluations from last'
term, and was going to try to
make the course a little more
exciting." So, Harvey said to him-
self (those evaluations c e a I y
worth something.
HARVEY Student's case bord-
ers, perhaps, on wishful tnmkirig.
Even after years of experimenta-
tion, refinemen's, and rmprave-
ments in survey techniques, many
instructors today still view student
course evaluations with a distrust-
ing eye.
In general, however, o,)sition
to course evaluations ap; tars to
be decreasing at colleges across
the country, including the Uni-
versity, as faculty members dis-
cover that student surveys have de-
veloped into an accurate and rela-
tively painless way to satisfy those

students, parents, and state legis-
lators who demand that increas-
ingly expensive college faculty be
"held accountable" for the'r work.
Presently, only the University's
College of Engineering and School
of Education operate mandatory,
college-wide evaluation programs
at the undergraduate level. Sever-
al individual departments and in-
structors in other University col-
leges do, however, independently
conduct evaluations.
ONE LSA faculty member ac-
tive in the field of course evalua-
tion is psychology professr Wil-
bert McKeachie. McKeachie, who
first began to collect data on "stu-
dent perception of teaching" in
1946, is today one of the most wide-
ly quoted writers on the sub-
ject. His basic question form is
used by many professors here and
at several other colleges and uni-
versities; a new revision is pre-
sently being tested in psychology
and physiology classes.
While McKeachie describes stu-
dent course reports as "a way of
obtaining some sense of :ow satis-
fied students are", he also believ-
es that they can be as effective
as classroom observation by oth-
er faculty members in rating in-
structor performance.
The implications of ths are
enormous. Not only, then, d9 course
evaluations provide a valid sum-
mary of what the "clients" of
university education think about
the process, but they provid a
method for evaluating faculty that
works as well as peer observation
while eliminating most -f the
problems inherent in such a sys-
INTERESTINGLY, studies indi-
cate that most instructors wll ac-
cept student criticism on a par
with peer criticism - and may, in
fact, prefer evaluation by their stu-
dents, with whom they have a
more frequent and more personal
relationship. "When a peer comes
in," McKeachie says, "it may be
a little more threatening."

One student member of the en-
gineering college's course evalua-
tion committee agreed with Mc-
Keachie's findings. "There hasn't
been any strong objection' from
the faculty to student course eval-
uation, she states. She terms En-
gin's program, which covers about
75 per cent of the college's cours-
es, "very worthwhile", especially
"when you look at the emphasis
put on the results."
And, in Engin, that emphasis is
indeed of considerable magnitude
- student course evaluations are
used to help deoartments deter-
mine if faculty should be granted
tenure. The student committee
member stresses that studeat eval-
uations are only one of manv fact
tors involved in the tenure-grant-
ing process, but another source in-
dicates that negative evaluation
feedback may have resulted in a
megative tenure decision in at
least one case,
fers to see course evaluation pro-
grams operated outside the realm
of such personnel decision making.
"Knowing how it (an evaluation
form) is going to be used" and
the "general atmosphere" in which
a faculty member receives t h e
form are extremely important in
determining the success of the sur-
vey, he states. He claims that if
the instructor knows results will
be used publicly, evaluation will
not be as effective.
McKeachie would prefer to see
an independent course Pvaluation
organization set up within the Uni-
versity. This group would help fa-
culty prepare, administer, a n d
tabulate evaluation forms, plus
(and perhaps most imporantly)
provide counseling after tabulation
to help instructors eliminate weak-
nesses and build up strengths.
McKeachie himself provided such
counseling to some Psycn 1 7 0
teaching fellows during a test of
course evaluation procedures last
term; preliminary results indi-
cate that TFs who discussed their
problems with a counselor at mid-
term improved more than those

who -did not. (According to the.
student course evaluation commit-
tee member, such discussion of re-
sults takes place with engineering
college faculty only "if the depart-
ment chairman wants to discuss
THE QUESTION of what r o I e
course evaluations should or will
play in tenure proceedings is pro-

bably the stickiest of all

- - -- - -----.W -


Things you can do
1. GET A COPY of the CUE Report from Ned Dougherty
(2522 LSA, 764-0321) and read the sections on g r a d i n g and
evaluation and improving teaching.
2. Before you sign up for courses, call the departments
and ask if a particular instructor has-'previously received a lot of
praise or criticism. Also check with the Student Counseling Office
and the undergraduate association in that department.
3. At the beginning of each course ask the instructor how he
or she and the class can co-operate to maximize the quality of his
or her teaching and your learning. If you feel that the instructor's
system of evaluation and grading is unfair or inappropriate, sug-
gest one of your own.
4. Give constructive feedback on your instructor's teaching
throughout the term and request constructive feedback of your
work, in turn. Make sure that your instructors take this serious-
ly and that you intend to write both to the department chair-
person and the associate dean for academic appointments (cur-
rently Hayden Carruth, 2508 LSA, 763-3271) if you feel the quality
of their instruction is particularly good or bad and save your
tests and papers if you have to make a case.
5. WRITE TO THE department chairperson and be specifi4
about what was good or bad. Include a grade on an A to E scale
to remind them how much information is not included in a uni-
dimensional evaluation. Ask if there had previously been any
other comments about the instructor and insist on satisfactory
6. If one of your instructors is in a faculty review process,
write the department and the Executive Committee (use the carbon
copy notation on the letter so that each body is aware that
the other body is aware of ydur letter. This makes it some-
what more difficult to ignore you). An unsolicited testimonial from
someone with no material interest can affect the outcome of a
decision, paricularly now that the openings are slim.
7. Join or organize a departmental undergraduate association
and compile personal records on individual instructors for other
students' use and submit recommendations at faculty review
8. IF NONE of these procedures gives you satisfaction, keep
writing to people higher up (save copies of correspondence to
show each higher-up). After you write to the Executive Commit-
tee, you should write to the Dean, the Vice President for Academic
Affairs, the Vice President for State Planning and Relations, the
President, your state legislator in Lansing and finally to the
Governor, informing each of your intention to go higher if you
do not receive satisfaction. If you want to touch a raw nerve,
it is the state legislature. This University depends heavily on the
state for financial support and is not likely to jeopardize relations
with the legislature over you.


raised by this generally wticky sub-
ject. Yet if the present wave of
demand for accountability" in
elementary and secondary schools
spills over into higher eduilation,
faculty members may hiveno
choice but to accept "stu int per-
ception of teaching" su4'vey as a
measure of performance.

Treading through the
teaching tenure tarp it

C ECOND ONLY to receiving a
doctoral degree, the receipt of
tenure is the pinnacle goal of most
academic staff at the University.
Tenure is an academic and eco-
nomic security blanket, given by
maternal departments to the pro-
fessorial children who nave behav-
ed best.
Tenure is traditionally conceiv-
ed of as a blank check good .or
unlimited academic freedom. It is
a license for the classroom to be
used as the professor wishes. It
gives assurance that the paycheck
will continue to be printed if the
instructor decides to try some-
thing innovative or controversial
that may raise departmental eye-
brows, or cause vocal disapproval.
The University of Michigan de-
fines tenure as technically mean-
ing that one who has it cannot be
fired without going through a spe-
cific due process and can only
be fired for a very limited num-
ber of reasons, such as moral tur-
pitude or gross incompetence.
TO DETERMINE which depart-
mental podiumists receive tenure,
the University has a three-pronged
trident of criteria. The University's
handbook Tenure Poliices and Prac-
tice insists the prospective recip-
'.ient show outstanding perform-
ance in teaching, research and
service. The tenure applicant must
be judged "excellent" in two of
these three areas and judged at
least "adequate" in the third. If
considered less than adequate in

any of these three areas, the ap-
plicant should be denied tenure.
The University of Michigan does
have a tenure quota sy 'em that
fixes the percentage of tenured
faculty allowed in each depart-
ment, as do Yale and Harvard. Un-
der the University's more flexible
tenure system, the perentage of
tenured faculty in eacn depart-
ment is virtually unlimited.
This tenure flexibility does allow
the awarding of tenure to deserv-
ing faculty and lessens the com-
petition for limited tenure slots:
that could distract faculty from
their primary academic goals. But
it also limits the opportunities for
new teaching talent to get their
foot in departmenal staff doors.
If tenured professors are weld-
ed into a majority of a depart-
ment's existing faculty openings,
the number of sea-breeze f r e s h
.people the department is capable
of gainfully absorbing is rigidly
limited. And without assurance of
new academic blood, department
circulation can slow to gummy
THE AWARDING of tenure is
highly individual. Attempts to
standardize the talents of various
craniums can produce only guide-
lines, not rigid rules for evaluat-
ing the prospects. The department
wants assurance that if this per-
son is awarded tenure, their brain
and spirit will actively function
and not dehydrate. Those , appli-
cants whose pasts or records show
signs of dryness or are judged to

be in some way inadequate are
In a controversial incident last
year, Assistant Professor M a r k
Green of the Chemistry Depart-
ment was denied tenure. 'T h r e e
months before, Greene had been
suspended by his Chairman f o r
showing anti-war slides to his
Chemistry 227 class and then re-
instated after a hail of public
Thomas Dunn, then and present
Chairman of the Chemistry De-
partment explained that Green had
been denied tenure because h i s
tenure committee could not "find ,
reasons sufficiently compelling to
make a case to the Executive Com-
mittee of the LSA College for
(his) promotion and tenure." Of-
ficially the department claimed
that Green had not maintained
his "initial vigorous program in
research," meaning one of t h e
prongs on the tenure criterion tri-
dent was bent below departmental
standards. The showing of anti-
war slides was not specifically
mentioned, but to what extent
Green's controversal actions ad-
versely affected his chances for
the comforts of tenure can never
be clearly defined on paper or
even in the consciousnesses of the
tenure committee members them-
selves. It was officially maintain-
ed that the incident behind Green's
original suspension was kept se-
parate from his tenure request.
But Green's reputation and his re-
cord contained both issues, and it
is upon reputation and record that

Don't be embarrassed to use these procedures. You
right to a good quality education and you should be
if you aren't getting it. They should be embarrassed.

have a

'"i+r.Yi { a'+ . I'G Cv !. ... ... f: x:14. .. til.' R

tenure decisions are made.
Green's tenure denial, Chairman
Dunn responded to questions about
denial of tenure for Gree x by say-
ing, "These are the so-t of things
one doesn't publish. They're con-
fidential between the man and
the department."
Confidentiality of the reasons be-
hind Green's failure to get tenure
does not limit speculati ai on them.
Perhaps Green was indeed an
inadequate lecturer, unimaginative
or anemic researcher, or public
service driftwood - or perhaps his
controversial actions made him
seem so. Perhaps the department
did not wish to live win'i Green
as a controversial chafing noose
around their necks under the for-
ever-and-a-day conditions of ten-
ure. Perhaps the department used
the denial of tenure to slap the
hands of a colleague whose views
or actions caused discomfort or
Because tenure is so permanent,
the department takes great caution
in deciding whose name is enter-

ed on the payroll ledger, in in-
delible ink.
TENURE is a complex issue fog-
ged with conflicting good and evil.
Is tenure a reward for imaginative
teaching and investigative excel-
lence or a reward for conformative
carbon copy teaching and staff
performance? Does tenure main-
tain high academic standards at
the cost of infusing variety and
sufficient fresh talent?
Tenure can be job security giv-
en to an innovative educator or
security to the department insur-
ing the academic boat will remain
anchored in the same sp) it has
always been. The tenure hand
that perpetually feeds the staff
can also perpetually conrcl it.
Tenure has the potential to
staff departments with lecturers
who can concentrate on academic
pioneering instead of paying the
phone bill, or to empower small-
scale departmental third reichs
that veto change, limit growth and
maintain the status quo without the
ability to effectively question i t s

Publ shersHall Syndicate. 1114
"Sorry, but he just didn't measure up tomy high standards.'
The job rejection letter blues

When they say:
Dear Mr.-Jones

They really mean:

Hey loser

By JOHN LANDE and we do
IN ORDER to survive and thrive, every to get th
social system must make regular mea- garbage if
surements of its environment and itself so garbage, w
that it can effectively respond to changes write rubb
in itself and its environment. The actual they tell u
choices of measurements and evaluations pictures o
made for these purposes reflect the inter- the woods
ests of the social system. In this article the bestv
I will examine two related systems of more Boon
measurement and evaluation: grading of but they a
students and faculty review procedures (ap-
pointment, tenure, promotion). WHENV
The current grading system is based on seriously,i
the expert-ignorant fool model of eval- and emplo
uation, where the expert specifies exact- formation
ly what the fool is to do and assigns a do not me
grade at the end of the term according lawyer or
to how well the fool has followed the ex- fortunately
pert's instructions. These instructions of- better. Sta
ten refer to such things as neatness, spell- how wellw
ing, grammar, punctuality of submitting tests, how
assignments and, quite commonly, agree- school ma
ment with the expert's opinions, what word
HAVING BEEN harrassed by the grad- posed to x

just about whatever we have to
ose grades. We read piles of
f they tell us to read piles of
we write rubbish if they tell us to
ish and we generally jump when
s to jump because we have vivid
f split level farmhouses out in
where we will be able to buy
vices that money can buy (no
ne's Farm). We may be decadent,
are downright authoritarian.
WE CONSIDER the matter more
we realize that graduate schools
Dyers really should have some in-
to evaluate us. Course grades
asure what it takes to be a good
doctor or scolar or teacher. Un-
y, other measures aren't much
ndardized tests basically measure
we know how to take standardized
well we remember junior high
ath and how well we can guess
ds that nobody ever uses are sup-
mean. Letters of recommendation

its grade
winter term, '70 through the fall term, '72)
studying this issue among a few others and
made excellent proposals aimed a- im-
proving grading's effect on the quality of
education, by making the first two years
and all lower level courses ungraded (i.e.,
pass/no entry, where non-passing work
would not be recorded, rather than recorded
as a fail, as in pass/fail grading).
The Curriculum Committee (CC) devoted
the entire 1971-72 academic year almost
exclusively to discussions of grading, and
made some excellent proposals aimed at
giving students choices about which grad-
es would be shown on their transcripts.
The Student Faculty Committee (SFPC)
studied both proposals and drafted a com-
promise which included the best parts of
both. These proposals sparked Intense stu-
dent apathy, despite public forums and
several aricles and editorials in the Daily.
THE COMMISSION on Graduation Re-
quirements was planned during the sum-
mer of 1972 and despite the vast amount of
work already done on the grading issue,

was voted in the meeting of March 5
The tone of the meeting was typically sur
real. The Dean and the Executive Commit-
tee had come out strongly against any ac-
tion at that time because the Commission
was studying the matter. The faculty will
ingly obliged by a vote of 226-45.
Meanwhile, back at the Commission
which was just beginning its grading dis-
cussions, the Commission decided, in a
decision split strictly along faculty-student
lines, to not consider the CUE, CC or SFPC
proposals, presumably because the faculty
had just 'expressed itself on the issue. The
Commission's grading proposal represents no
improvement over the current system, and
it is in my judgment, clearly inferior to
tpe other three.
I FIND THE expert-fool model elitist
and otherwise repulsive. I prefer to use a
model of variably common and conflicting
interests. This model would recognize that
students' interests in faculty review is pri-

We regret to inform you
that you have not been accepted
for our summer intern program
competition was very stiff
we literally had hundreds of
applicants this year
after carefully screening all the applications

It costs us ten goddamn cents for this letter
so you better face up to it, kid,
you got rejected
it turned out half of the applicants have been
dead for the past five years
But the job market must be real tight if that
many people tried to get a job at a yellow
journalism rag like this
last weekend the editors went out and got

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