We are Faculty of Arts teaching staff who are concerned about the UBCV Provost’s decision to continuing holding student evaluations of teaching (SEoTs) “as usual” this term. There is nothing usual about the conditions for teaching this term and we do not believe that this decision is in the best interest of the teaching staff at UBCV. The ability of individuals to undertake the burdens of the switch to online teaching differs according to individual circumstances and these burdens have been placed particularly heavily upon the most vulnerable members of our teaching complement, who have both a larger number of courses to teach and a smaller pool of financial resources to absorb additional burdens like the cost of high-speed internet or other equipment they need for their courses.
Moreover, the Provost’s reasoning in which he claims that “we [sic] believe it will be useful to gather student feedback on their experience of the transition to online” is concerning. This is not a goal for SEoTs contemplated in the Senate policy for SEoTs, the SEoT questionnaire was not developed with this goal in view and will not yield reliable or valid data on that topic, and there are many aspects to the student “experience of the transition to online” that go beyond their experience in (and thus their evaluation of) individual courses and their instructors. If gathering student feedback on the transition to online teaching is the University’s goal, it must develop a dedicated instrument for this purpose.
The Senate meets in special session on 8 April to discuss covid-19-related matters. We urge that you place a discussion of this decision onto the agenda for that meeting.