Belmont Vision – Faculty Senate discusses two new prompts for course evaluations

A debate erupted Monday in the Belmont faculty senate over two proposed course evaluation questions that would seek to elicit student perspectives on diverse communities and marginalized voices at the university.

The two suggested response prompts on the Likert scale are:

— The instructor created an environment of belonging and inclusion in the classroom.

—– The course addressed diverse perspectives including marginalized voices.

“This language was not chosen at random. There’s been a lot of debate about the “marginalised”, said Dr. Jason Lovvorn, who chairs the committee that drafted the questions.

Although the first question was not discussed as thoroughly, the use of “marginalized voices” in the second statement left some faculty senators wondering if it could be misinterpreted by students and used as a opportunity to unfairly criticize a teacher.

Grades assigned to course evaluations may affect faculty eligibility for raises, promotions and, in some cases, may even jeopardize their job security.

“It could also be that, ‘Well, they haven’t discussed the authors who claim the Earth is flat, and so they haven’t talked about the marginalized voice that I want to hear,'” Dr. Nathan Griffith, faculty president. senate.

Dr. Amy Crook, former president of the faculty senate, said the language used in these prompts should mirror the language the faculty senate has used elsewhere to avoid confusion.

In other places such as the catalog and the program, the phrase “historically underrepresented perspectives” is used, and Crook suggested that this should be the wording of the second prompt instead of the margin

Other faculty senators felt it would be acceptable to add the prompts to course evaluations and modify them as necessary.

“No one is going to the gallows for these two issues in the near future. So I think it’s fine for us to experiment and test and fail and test and fail,” said Dr. Anthony Blash, Faculty Senate Representative for the College of Pharmacy.

Others felt that the proposed course evaluation would benefit from an explanation of its language.

“If we were to include one or both of these questions in the questionnaire, then I think we would have to provide…a defining document,” said faculty senator Dr. Mark Volker.

If these prompts are successful, they will likely be included in course evaluations no earlier than the fall 2022 semester.

Faculty senators will spend the next three weeks considering these questions before voting on them at the April 25 public meeting.

PHOTO: Lillie Burke / Belmont Vision Multimedia

This article was written by Connor Daryani.

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