Evaluation Writing (archived December 2013)
Evaluation of Student Work:
Evaluation of student work is one of the most important responsibilities of faculty at Evergreen. Each quarter--or at the end of a program, if it is of more than one quarter's duration--evaluations must be written of each student with whom the faculty member has worked.
Evaluation week can be a hectic and trying time for many faculty members. The workload is likely to be heavy, and careful organization is necessary in order to meet with all students and get evaluations of their work prepared for the program secretary to make final copies. (Faculty evaluation of student work is to be done in narrative format on the forms provided by the office of Registration and Records.) Some faculty prefer to schedule evaluation conferences one after another at the beginning of the week (asking each student to bring in his or her self-evaluation and final program assignments), and then write all evaluations in an intensive effort in the latter part of the week. Others have found it more efficient to write up evaluations of students before holding conferences. This allows discussion at the conference to focus on what has been written in advance. Still others have used a pattern of alternating conferences with writing periods throughout the evaluation week.
Timely submission of evaluations to program secretaries is a must. (See Section 7.622 in the Faculty Handbook.) Evaluations which are late getting to the secretary can cause delays in meeting student requests for transcripts, awarding of financial aid for the following quarter or reporting to the Veterans Administration and scholarship-granting agencies.
Each evaluation should include not only text, but also a list of "suggested course equivalencies"--setting out the equivalent work in quarter-hour credits as it might be described by a conventional institution. New faculty who are in doubt about the appropriate formulation of equivalencies may wish to consult with an experienced faculty member or their dean (of group) for advice. A well-written evaluation of student work covers as many of the following elements as possible:
1. command of information covered in the program or course;
2. understanding of central ideas;
3. imaginative and creative use of subject matter;
4. ability to think, verbalize ideas and plan strategies for problem solving;
5. writing ability;
6. class contribution (preparation, attendance, participation);
7. growth over the quarter (or year); and
8. diligence and effort;
So far as possible, the text of the evaluation should relate clearly to the course equivalencies at the end. That is, some comment should be included in the text to indicate what the level of the student's performance was for each area of equivalency. Faculty are explicitly directed not to use letter or numerical grades in the evaluation and, insofar as possible, should refrain from using language which is the equivalent of grades. Because the evaluation is of student achievement, there should be no comment about work which was not successfully completed. That should be handled by simple reduction of credit or, when no credit at all is to be awarded by filing a special "no credit" form. Student work which earns upper division credit should be clearly marked in the course equivalencies with an asterisk (*).
A few caveats about evaluation writing: it is important in assessing a student's performance to remember that the ultimate audience of the evaluation is a public one--and may include readers looking at the evaluation many years later. A too-personal or too-informal tone may be damaging to a student's future career or studies. An evaluation that is too harsh in its criticism may impugn itself. (Outside readers have been known to ask, "If the student did so poorly, why did the faculty member give any credit at all?") An evaluation that is too equivocal can give the impression that a poor performance is being "covered up." In general, honest and direct writing about observable performance works best.
In 1987 the faculty voted to require that all students go through a written self-evaluation process in their academic programs. This is beneficial to the student for several reasons--perhaps the most important is the introspection which the process itself encourages for the student. At that time, program faculty were instructed to determine explicitly and notify students at the beginning of the program, regarding whether or not student self-evaluations will be a part of the permanent student transcript, but the option to require self evaluations for the transcript was removed by a faculty vote in 2011. Students new to Evergreen should receive some instruction in writing their first self-evaluations. Finally, the 1987 vote abolished the requirement of a faculty signature on student self-evaluations.
Student evaluations of faculty:
Students are expected to submit written evaluations of their primary faculty members at the end of a program. Some faculty require a student evaluation of them as one of the terms for the award of credit; this is to be made clear in the program covenant at the outset of the program of study. Because Evergreen wishes to encourage mutual and thoughtful evaluations, the student's evaluation of the faculty will normally be given to the faculty member at the final conference of the program. The evaluation will then be discussed during that conference, after the faculty evaluation of the student and the student's self-evaluation have been discussed and agreed upon.
However, if the student prefers, s/he may turn in the evaluation of the faculty to the program secretary before the evaluation conference. The secretary will so inform the faculty, but will not give the evaluation to the faculty until the final evaluations of the student are submitted to Registration and Records.