This policy establishes guidelines for the use of student evaluation for improving instruction and evaluating faculty performance within the UW System.
This policy is limited to formal evaluation of instruction only. The policy applies primarily to tenured and tenure track faculty, but institutions may, at their discretion, apply appropriate provisions of this policy to other instructional staff. This policy does not address evaluation of non-instructional personnel or activities, or of the performance of faculty who are primarily assigned to continuing education and public service activities.
The UW System Board of Regents established this policy to guide the use of student evaluation data of instruction for improving teaching effectiveness and evaluating faculty and instructional staff performance. The UW System Board of Regents shares an interest with UW institutions and students in providing the most effective instruction possible for all students. The Board asserts that the ability to teach effectively should also be one of the chief criteria considered in tenure decisions and in the retention, and promotion, of faculty. The Board recognizes that the collection and use of data from students describing student experiences related to instruction are a valuable source of information that supports these goals.
The UW System Board of Regents encourages institutional efforts to collect student evaluation data, in compliance with this policy, for use in improving instruction and for evaluating faculty and other instructional staff performance.
Use of Student Evaluation Data for Improving Instruction
The use of student evaluation data describing student experiences related to teaching effectiveness in a course are useful for identifying opportunities for improving the delivery of the course.
Each UW institution shall develop written policies and procedures to support the collection and use of student evaluation data for the purposes of improving course instruction.
Institutions may choose the methods used to solicit and analyze student evaluation data for the purposes of improving instruction, but institutions shall seek to identify methods that, to the extent possible, provide an objective, reliable, and valid description of student perceptions and opinions.
Institutions are encouraged to develop student evaluations used for course improvement separately from student evaluations used for evaluating faculty performance. Faculty shall have a role in determining the components and processes of evaluating teaching effectiveness.
Evaluating Faculty Performance
For the purposes of this policy, a faculty performance review refers to any periodic review conducted by an institution for such purposes as to determine whether to retain, promote, grant tenure, award a merit pay increase, or to monitor the performance of an instructional faculty member. Examples of faculty performance reviews include, but are not limited to, reviews conducted in accordance with UWS 3.05, Wis. Admin. Code, “Periodic reviews,” as well as tenure and post-tenure reviews. The evaluation of faculty performance shall consider the following.
Evaluation of Faculty Performance
Evaluation of faculty performance necessarily considers the performance of multiple responsibilities, including teaching effectiveness, the quality of research and scholarly activity, and public service, among other duties.
Each UW institution shall ensure institutional policies on promotion, salary, and tenure clearly define expectations regarding teaching effectiveness, research, public service, and other faculty responsibilities, with each UW institution determining the relative weight of teaching effectiveness in relation to other faculty responsibilities.
The final determination of faculty performance requires a judicious weighing of all criteria, both singly and in relation to one another, relative to the current mission and developmental needs of a department and institution. Each UW institution shall develop written policies and procedures ensuring a sound and fair basis for judging faculty performance that considers student evaluation data, along with other sources of performance evaluation data, to evaluate faculty performance.
Use of Student Evaluation Data for Evaluating Teaching Effectiveness
UW institutions shall use student evaluation data as one of multiple sources of information for evaluating the teaching effectiveness of faculty and, at the institution’s discretion, for other instructional staff. The Board of Regents recognizes that some traditional teaching evaluations are subject to students’ unintentional bias, and the policy encourages institutions to ensure, to the extent possible, that any survey instrument used is objective and fully minimizes bias. (Flaherty, C., 2019) Therefore, UW institutions shall use particular care to ensure that student evaluation data used for evaluating teaching effectiveness are, to the extent possible, objective, valid, and reliable and that any limitations in the objectivity, validity, and reliability of the data is considered when using student evaluation data to evaluate a faculty member’s teaching effectiveness.
Student evaluation data shall be used in conjunction with, and not as a substitute for, other methods of evaluating teaching effectiveness. Teaching effectiveness may also be evaluated through a variety of other means such as peer observations of teaching; evaluation of syllabi, examinations and other course materials; and evaluation of contributions to development and strengthening of departmental curriculum. To the extent possible, institutions shall seek to ensure colleagues with expertise both in the subject matter and in standards of content and achievement in the faculty member’s field of expertise are used to provide peer judgment of teaching effectiveness. Faculty shall have a role in determining the components and processes of evaluating teaching effectiveness.
Public Records Request of Student Evaluations
Institutions shall seek consultation as necessary for any public record request for student evaluation data to ensure the response complies with public records laws, including s. 19.33 (10) (d), Wis. Stats., which prohibits release of employee evaluations in response to a public records request.
Oversight, Roles, and Responsibilities
UW institutions are responsible for providing resources and support for assuring that instructional faculty are current in their discipline and adept in their teaching roles.
In accordance with UWS 3.05, Wis. Admin. Code, the faculty and the chancellor of each UW institution, after consultation with students, are responsible for establishing policies and procedures for providing for the periodic review of faculty performance.
The faculty and the chancellor of each institution are responsible for establishing policies and procedures that describe the extent to which, and the methods used to collect, analyze, and use student evaluation data for improving classroom instruction and for evaluating faculty performance. UW System faculty shall be meaningfully involved in any systematic effort to solicit student opinions for the purpose of improving instruction or evaluating faculty performance, including involvement in determining the components and processes for evaluating instruction. In this role, the faculty shall work toward the use of valid and reliable evaluative methodologies that are consistent with the field of instruction and the mission and needs of each institution.
UW System Administration’s Office of Academic and Student Affairs is responsible for general oversight of the implementation of this policy.
UW System Administration’s Office of Compliance and Integrity shall provide consultation regarding the release of student evaluation data in response to public records requests.
Related Regent Policy Documents and Applicable Laws
- Regent Policy Document 20-9, “Periodic Post-Tenure Review in Support of Tenured Faculty Development”
- Regent Policy Document 20-23, “Faculty Tenure”
- UWS 3.05, Wis. Admin. Code, “Periodic Review”
History: Res. 868, adopted 10/04/1974, created RPD 74-13 (subsequently renumbered as RPD 20-2). Technical corrections were made on 11/15/2018, as authorized by Res. 10835 (adopted 03/09/2017). Res. 11446, adopted 06/04/2020, amended RPD 20-2.
SYS 185, College Credit in High School (formerly G36)
SYS 1278, UW System Pay Plan Distribution Framework for University Workforce (formerly TC 4)
[UW System Administrative policies are included for reference and are separate from Regent Policy Documents adopted by the Board.]