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Center for Policy Studies

Public Affairs Discussion Group

The Medium is the Message: What Happens When Universities Digitize Course Evaluations

Timothy J. Fogarty, Ph.D. - Professor of Accountancy at Case Western Reserve University
Friday November 30, 2012
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Dampeer Room
Kelvin Smith Library
Case Western Reserve University

Dear Colleagues:

Many universities have moved student evaluation of faculty and courses out of the classroom, where it had resided for many years. The increased efficiency of the web-based administration of these instruments seems self-apparent, at least to the administrators who promote the new processes.

It is less obvious to faculty members such as, say, department chairs and members of promotion and tenure committees, who notice that many fewer students fill out the evaluations than did so when they were handed out on the last day of class. We worry that the responses could well be statistically biased - aside from the fact that sometimes there just aren't enough to take seriously at all.

So I was thrilled to learn that our colleague Tim Fogarty has actually done research on digitized course evaluations. Professor Fogarty is the author of over 75 articles on aspects of accounting education in particular and the teaching and learning process in general. In a recent paper, he compares the results of questionnaires administered online with those collected from the same students while they were in class. Significantly lower results for the instructor and the course are produced when an online administration is used.

This suggests some implications for faculty evaluation.... I look forward to a discussion of to what extent my worst fears, as a department chair and p&t committee member, are being confirmed!

All best regards,
Joe White
Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy and Director, Center for Policy Studies

About Our Guest...

Tim Fogarty focuses his research in three areas. He studies accounting regulation to shed light on how industry standards and institutional rules control accounting and the sharing of corporate information. Tim also explores the organizations that employ and influence accountants’ work. His third stream of research investigates accounting education and its role in shaping how the field is organized and controlled.

Where We Meet

The Friday Public Affairs Lunch convenes each Friday when classes are in session, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. We usually meet in the Dampeer Room of Kelvin Smith Library. The Dampeer Room is on the second floor of the library. Occasionally we need to use a different room; that will always be announced in the weekly e-mails.

Parking Possibilities

The most convenient parking is the lot underneath Severance Hall. We regret that it is not free. From that lot there is an elevator up to street level (labeled as for the Thwing Center); it is less than 50 yards from that exit to the library entrance. You can get from the Severance garage to the library without going outside. Near the entry gates - just to the right if you were driving out - there is a door into a corridor. Walk down the corridor and there will be another door. Beyond that door you'll find the entrance to an elevator which goes up to an entrance right inside the doors to Kelvin Smith Library.

Friday Lunch Upcoming Topics and Speakers:

December 7: The “Chicago Boys” Without Pinochet: Privatization and Protest in Chile. With Diane Haughney, Ph.D.

Visit the Public Affairs Discussion Group Web Site.

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