Evaluation Procedures

Overview
Sample Forms
Instructions to Teachers
Important Information About Co-Teaching
Instructions to Students
Contact Information
Interpreting Your Report
FAQ

 

Overview

Teaching and course evaluations are distributed at the end of each school term. Beginning Spring 2006, paper and scantron forms were replaced with online electronic submissions. Evaluations submitted electronically are stored separately from any identifiable information, and are presented in a completely anonymous manner to professors and administrative staff. Authentication is required for submitting evaluations only to ensure that only one evaluation is submitted per student per class. Professors and administrative staff have access to the anonymous evaluations including the comments, but have no way to associate an evaluation with a specific student other than the text submitted by the student.

Students are asked to evaluate both the teacher and the class on a scale of 1-5 for most questions and 1-7 on the "Overall Teaching Effectiveness of This Instructor" question. Comments submitted in addition are encouraged.

Copies are made available to the lecturers and professors only after their grades for the semester have been turned in.

The aggregate quantitative data is made available to current students on a password protected website for use in course-planning.  Qualitative data (student comments) are available only to each individual instructor and administrative staff. 

The information gathered from the students is used to improve the quality of teaching at Boalt hall. They are a valuable tool and an important resource.

The link to a few examples of the forms can be found below.

Sample Forms

These forms contain the questions currently used (as of Spring 2010).  Note that 1L classes will not contain the "Student to Student" question.

Large Classes and Seminars
Skills Courses
Clinics
Clinic Seminars
Individual Coaching in Presentation Skills for the Courtroom

Instructions to Teachers

Please read these instructions even if you have conducted evaluations before. Some of the information is new.

Please also confirm that your course description is up to date and accurate in "Courses at Boalt." Course descriptions are locked once evaluations are turned in (updates are made to registrar@law.berkeley.edu).

The on-line course evaluation should be administered by setting aside 10 minutes at the start of class during the last week of the semester.  Please excuse yourself from the room while students are filling out the evaluation, and please give your students at least one day's notice of the evaluation so they will know to bring their laptops on that day.

If your class is ending early in the semester, please alert us so your evaluations can be handled before your early final. Please avoid waiting for the review session. Many students do not attend catch-up or review sessions and we want as much participation as possible.

Please tell your students:

-The link to the "Submit Teaching Evaluations" page is found in the "For Students" area of our website.
-Course evaluations are required for each teacher participating in the instruction of a course. If there are two teachers teaching the same course, each will have his or her own evaluation link for the students to visit.

You should not remain in the classroom while the evaluations are being filled out.

Important Information About Co-Teaching

Teaching and Course Evaluations are an important tool for the law school. They allow us to gather information about the course itself and the teachers who instruct the students. Because the information about the teachers is often used to determine future employment, awards and stipends, a teacher cannot share a set of evaluations with another professor or instructor. Each person who instructs students at Boalt, to any degree, needs his or her own set of evaluations. This is extremely important and there are no exceptions. Please do not exempt yourself.

Instructions to Students

Thank you for taking the time to complete this course evaluation. The information you provide is valuable in several ways:

      (a) it provides the instructor with feedback to improve his or her teaching;
      (b) it informs the law school's staffing decisions;
      (c) it informs review and promotion decisions concerning this instructor; and
      (d) it provides useful information to fellow students about this course and this instructor.

Please complete the evaluation with these purposes in mind.

To assure that your opinion is known, we must be able to properly tabulate the evaluation form you turn in. For this reason, we are no longer using paper and scantron forms.
Evaluations have been submitted electronically since Spring 2006. Sample evaluation forms can be found above.

Electronically submitted teaching evaluations are stored separately from any identifiable information, and are presented in a completely anonymous manner to professors and administrative staff. Authentication is required only to ensure that only one evaluation is submitted per student per instructor. Professors and administrative staff have access to the anonymous evaluations including the comments, but have no way to associate an evaluation with a specific student other than the text submitted by the student.

Please submit your teaching evaluation here by logging in and submitting your answers. The link to the "Submit Teaching Evaluations" page can also be found on the "For Students" area of our site.

Contact Information

Assistant Dean
Susan Whitman
332 North Addition
510-643-9566
swhitman@law.berkeley.edu

Chief Technical Officer
Information Systems & Technology
Gabriel M. Gonzalez
510-643-6868
ggonzalez@law.berkeley.edu

Interpreting Your Report

Interpreting the Course Evaluation Report (only teachers receive a report)
General Information: The ranking does not refer to your class in comparison to other classes, but in comparison to the other questions on your report. On the "Large Classes and Seminars" evaluations, for example, 1/8 means that this question was ranked first among the 8 questions in the evaluation form that have a possibility of 5 or 7 answers (questions 1-6 & 9-10). This will be 1/10 in the "Skills" evaluations, 1/5 in the "Clinic Seminars," and 1/6 in the "Clinics."

Large Classes & Seminars: The responses to items 1-6 and 9-10 are summarized in two rows. The top row shows what percentage of those responding selected each score. The bottom row sets out four pieces of information. The first is the mean, giving the average of all responses to the left of the slash and the highest possible score to the right of the slash. The second is the standard deviation, showing the dispersion of scores from the mean; generally, about 68% of scores will be within one standard deviation from the mean and about 95% will be within two standard deviations. The third is the mode, the score selected most frequently. The last is the rank of the average score among all the ranked items (i.e., all items except 7 and 8). On items 7 and 8, only three responses are possible. Here, the only meaningful pieces of information, and the only ones given, are the percentage of respondents making each choice—given in the top row—and the mode appearing in the bottom row.

Skills Courses: The responses to items 1-10 are summarized in two rows. The top row shows what percentage of those responding selected each score. The bottom row sets out four pieces of information. The first is the mean, giving the average of all responses to the left of the slash and the highest possible score to the right of the slash. The second is the standard deviation, showing the dispersion of scores from the mean; generally, about 68% of scores will be within one standard deviation from the mean and about 95% will be within two standard deviations. The third is the mode, the score selected most frequently.The last is the rank of the average score among all the ranked items.

Clinics Seminars: The responses to items 1-5 are summarized in two rows. The top row shows what percentage of those responding selected each score. The bottom row sets out four pieces of information. The first is the mean, giving the average of all responses to the left of the slash and the highest possible score to the right of the slash. The second is the standard deviation, showing the dispersion of scores from the mean; generally, about 68% of scores will be within one standard deviation from the mean and about 95% will be within two standard deviations. The third is the mode, the score selected most frequently. The last is the rank of the average score among all the ranked items.

Clinics: The responses to items 1-6 are summarized in two rows. The top row shows what percentage of those responding selected each score. The bottom row sets out four pieces of information. The first is the mean, giving the average of all responses to the left of the slash and the highest possible score to the right of the slash. The second is the standard deviation, showing the dispersion of scores from the mean; generally, about 68% of scores will be within one standard deviation from the mean and about 95% will be within two standard deviations. The third is the mode, the score selected most frequently. The last is the rank of the average score among all the ranked items.

SD stands for "standard deviation." For a general explanation of what SD means, clink on the following link. http://www.robertniles.com/stats/stdev.shtml

Frequently Asked Question

How do I read my evaluations online?
Both teachers and students have access to the course evaluation data online via a login password.

Course evaluation information is posted online, but comments posted by students are not viable to students. Only the teacher and authorized persons can see the comments, which are stored anonymously in a secure database. Authorized persons include Leonor Clelo, the Dean, the Associate Dean, and anyone approved by one of the deans.

Why do I have to turn in my grades before I get my evaluations?
There are two concerns. Some might think them strained, but they certainly seem sufficient to justify a bright-line rule.

First, although Boalt has a grading curve, there remain areas of discretion within the overall grade distribution limits. In particular, faculty members can choose in large courses to give slightly more or fewer Honors grades, given the alternative calculation rules, and they can choose to give as many or as few PC or NC grades as they like. In seminars, they have even more discretion in determining how many Honors grades to award. The concern is that faculty members who get strongly negative teaching evaluations from a class might consciously or unconsciously respond by awarding lower aggregate grades to the class than they otherwise would. The reverse might be true for those who get highly flattering class evaluations. The way to guard against this possible influence on grading is to distribute the teaching evaluations after grades have been submitted.

Second, Boalt faculty members assign grades to individual students and could conceivably be influenced by a particular student's evaluation in determining that student's grade. How can this be, if exam scoring is blind? In non-seminar classes, professors assign grades after submitting raw scores. They might use what discretion they have to move a particular student's grade up or down, based on that student's evaluation. How can professors determine which student wrote which evaluation? Often they can't. But it's possible that they will know the author in some cases. A student might have made a complaint during the course and then have reiterated that same complaint (one echoed by other students) on an evaluation form. A faculty member might react vindictively or with unwonted leniency, depending on what the student wrote on the evaluation. In seminars, the danger is greater, because papers typically are not read blind and classes tend to be small. Professors might more easily associate a student with an evaluation form, which, again, consciously or unconsciously might skew grading.

So the simple solution is to wait until grades are submitted before distributing student teaching evaluations.