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Course evaluations have no influence over faculty salaries

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While faculty are required to hand out course evaluations to students to review the class and the instructor at the end of each semester, the have little to no affect on the professor’s payroll. Sometimes they are never even read and end up in a waste basket.

According to Rico Quintero, sports leisure junior, he said students view evaluations as a good tool for pay raise and others think they can be biased and should be used carefully.

“If a teacher is good, then there should be some benefits,” Quintero said. “If they are continually bad, then I think eventually they need to be replaced. I say the word continually because sometimes students simply do not like the way a professor teaches and others do. Sometimes there will be bad reviews.”

One student said she believes there should be some sort of incentive for positive reviews.

As an incentive for instructors to earn positive reviews, Justice Lee, nursing senior, said payroll should reflect that because evaluations matter “for sure” but not “messed with too much.”

“Maybe if it doesn’t affect the payroll then the positive ones should carry benefits,” Lee said. “I don’t think negative ones should affect payroll because some of them can be biased based on the grade the student made. A professor’s pay helps them take care of their families, so I don’t think it should be messed with much.”

Bryan Cooper, mechanical engineering sophomore, said he believes evaluations don’t do justice because they can be solely based on the students performance in the class.

“I feel like the evaluations really don’t matter because students may hold grudges or may not put forth the effort and blame the teacher,” Cooper said. “They give a bad evaluation when in fact it is their own fault. Maybe if the professor is wanting a raise, he or she can bring up the point of good evaluations as something to stand on.”

Some professors said they believe student evaluations should be taken seriously across campus and lead potentially to promotion; however, if a professor’s evaluations are consistently bad, that professor should be brought up to relevant authorities.

According to Claudia Montoya, associate professor of Spanish, stressed the importance of the evaluation and said they are “excellent tools of assessment.”

“If you, as a professor, take your student’s seriously then they are going to take you seriously,” Montoya said. “My experiences have taught me that if I show respect to the students then they will show it in the evaluations. So I do think they should count toward potentially getting a raise or not getting a raise.”

Montoya said she thinks evaluations should be taken seriously by the chair of the department as well as the dean, when it comes to salary increase.

“It is important for the chair to see them as well as the dean. If that is not the case, then you may have disparities, because in some departments the chair may use the evaluations and in others they won’t,” Montoya said. “It has to be a tool used across campus and it has to be regulated so that it is fair if it’s going to affect pay.”

There has to be the same standard used by every college on campus if the evaluations are going to be used as a direct tool for salary increase, Montoya said.

“For instance, if in one department a professor has one bad semester and their pay is lowered, while on the other hand in another department a professor is constantly getting negative reviews, but there if no consequence then it would be highly unfair,” Montoya said. “So the same standards should apply as far as using them across the university.”

There are many factors in payroll and student evaluations are a small part of that according to one of the highest paid professors on campus.

Emily Labeff, sociology professor, is making more than six figures a year. As one of the highest paid professors on campus, Labeff said more than teaching goes into her salary.

“I do get good evaluations, and I have for most of my career,” Labeff said. “I don’t know how much they influence pay grade because there are so many other factors. Evaluations alone are not going to raise pay.”

As far as one evaluation goes, Montoya said the evaluations should be looked at over a time period instead of each individual one.

“One single evaluation has to be taken with a grain of salt because teachers may have one bad semester,”Montoya said. “However, if it that is a constant trend throughout the years then the evaluations are a good tool for the university to use in order to make the professor take responsibility. So if constantly you are receiving bad evaluations then it should eventually be brought up to the chair.”

Professors sometimes question the validity of the evaluations due because the most popular and likable professors are more highly rated than others, but Montoya disagrees with this mentality.

Montoya said, “Some professors may say it’s just a popularity contest, but I don’t believe that. I believe if you respect your students and show them that you care then it will reflect in your evaluations. It does not matter the subject, because even if they don’t like the subject, if they see the teacher really cares and tries to work with them they will write a good evaluation.”

The importance of course evaluations may be determined on how long a professor has had his or her job.

Montoya said, “The problem is some instructors who are tenured don’t care any more. As a professor you should always want to learn from the feedback of the students so you can continually improve.”

According to Labeff, a lot of things go into the determination of a professor’s salary beyond their ability to teach. She said some of the things that lead to getting a good salary are professional work, involvement on campus, being apart of the faculty senate, sponsoring organizations and academic advising.

Like others, Labeff said a big reason evaluations do not play a big role is because people tend not to trust them.

“A lot of professors see the evaluations as a popularity contest, but I don’t,”Labeff said. “I think they are very useful and should be taken seriously because without the feedback you don’t know how students are doing.”

Evaluations can carry a lot more emphasis if the professor is not yet tenured. Newly hired professors are more heavily judged on their course evaluations. They do not affect pay, but they do factor into whether the professor is kept or dismissed.

Labeff said, “If you are being rated poorly and you are not yet tenured, then it makes a big impact on whether you are rid of for those who are early in their careers.”

READ MORE ABOUT FACULTY AND STAFF SALARIES AT MSU.

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Course evaluations have no influence over faculty salaries