Now that semester is over, it’s time to finalize marks, and then, after those marks have been “approved” by invisible forces and released only by the parties fully-authorized to do so, we coordinators receive valuable feedback on our teaching from our students.  Only this time around, our feedback will be something like an understuffed Christmas stocking.  80% understuffed to be exact, thanks to yet another ill-conceived, under-consulted, forcefully-rammed through policy change.  The change I refer to is the recent switch of the SFU process to an online format.  While I honestly do commend the university for going green with this initiative, and while I also commend them for reassigning that poor soul whose job it was to type all the feedback to less mind-numbing work (ever hear of a scanner?), I still couldn’t help but laugh when, as usual, it blew up in management’s faces. 

 

            In my school, we all received an email a few weeks ago that came as little surprise to actual lecturers.  It alerted us to the problem of extremely low participation.  “On the SFU response rates,” the email stated, “as of this morning, overall it has increased from 12.8% (last Tuesday) to 17.3%.”  As prelude to this, we had also received an absolutely bizarre email from some excited tecchie letting us know how to check our “response rate” live!  First of all, it’s not a “rate” technically.  Second, did you actually expect us to sit around watching our response rates leap from 1.7 to 1.8?  As for the low participation itself, any lecturer could have told you that if you don’t incentivize the SFU process in some way, you will have extremely low participation.  It offers yet another example of the cluelessness to the topdown management style at UWS.

 

            The email also warned us of the potential dread of “skewed results,” but here I must demur.  I checked, and my results are hovering at a bullish 20%.  As for the 80% who didn’t bother to give feedback, am I actually suffering by not hearing from them?  Every term, I have to wade through the same inane complaints (“Too much reading!  Reading hard!”) despite the fact that I have lowered the number of pages every couple of years.  So to the people whose bright idea this was, I’d actually say, ironically and in spite of yourselves, well done! 18% sounds just about right to me.

 

– Dr. Nostradamus

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