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UNT pushing SPOT evaluations as semester draws to close

UNT pushing SPOT evaluations as semester draws to close

November 29
22:04 2017

With three weeks left in the semester, professors at UNT look towards SPOT evaluations to improve their future teaching endeavors.

UNT has been using the evaluation system Student Perceptions of Teaching since 2015. SPOT, developed by the University of Washington, replaced the SETE as UNT’s primary teaching evaluator. The evaluations open to students each semester in the weeks leading up to finals, and they provide students with a means to detail what worked well and what didn’t in their classes each semester.

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Christy Crustinger said SPOT is of central importance to UNT as a whole.

“Bottom line, the evaluations are to improve instruction,” Crustinger said. “That leads to student success. That is the purpose of SPOT.”

Some students, like junior biology student Michaela Samuels, like the surveys because they provide an opportunity to give comments on their best and worst classes in a semester.

“I had a difficult semester with one particular instructor,” Samuels said. “Now I make a point to complete the SPOT evaluations for the best and worst courses.”

Other students are indifferent about the surveys, saying they would only do them for the extra credit.

In order to combat student apathy, Crustinger details what teachers can do to incentivize the completion of each semester’s evaluations.

“We encourage identification in a certain way,” Crustinger said. “We do not encourage a blanket five points for completion. However, for example, a class gives a participation rate of 75 percent, then teachers can give some points on the final exam or something of that nature.”

Marketing professor Charles Blankson makes use of incentivization saying it helps spur students into completing the evaluations despite how busy they get around finals time.

“In recent years we have been encouraged to give a small amount of extra credit as an incentive,” Blankson said. “It has worked very well. I think the problem is that they do not mind, they just do not have the time. It comes at a time when they just want to finish the semester in these last few weeks. Time is not on their hands, so they need a little something to encourage their response.”

Blankson went on to say the evaluations specifically help him to improve aspects of the class that are paramount to student success, like syllabus clarity and an improved approach to lectures.

“I have looked at [the responses] keenly and looked at them to help restructure my teaching,” Blankson said. “Their responses help make my syllabus top quality, which is crucial, as the syllabus is their introduction to the class. I also use them to adjust my actually delivery in class. With these responses, I can help move that material more into focus in the future.”

These alterations highlight the importance of student completion of SPOT, as Blankson explained they provide the bedrock for better education at UNT.

“In the end, it is all for the students,” Blankson said. “It is worth it, completing these evaluations. We need to really hammer down that doing these surveys help students. It helps their fellow students taking the same class in the future, and it helps all the professors to have better classes as well. In the end, it is really beneficial.”

Featured Image: Dr.Charles Blankson, a marketing professor at UNT discusses extra credit opportunities at the beginning of class Monday night. Kelsey Shoemaker

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Joshua Cassidy

Joshua Cassidy

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