Fall semester is coming to an end and the Faculty Course Questionnaire (FCQ) is now available. I fill them out diligently each semester, but I always wonder how effective they are in making changes to the courses.
I was most uncertain about whether faculty can view all the commentary provided in FCQs, or if it is presented to them by somebody else in the department. Like most students, I want to know if my instructors are hearing what I’d like them to know – both praise and constructive criticism.
Principal instructor in the department of English Kacey Ross explained that FCQs are viewed directly by faculty members after the feedback comes in from Institutional Research.
“They come directly to faculty, faculty get them a couple of weeks after the semester ends,” Ross said. “They are part of our annual review process, so when we write our annual merit evaluations of ourselves, our FCQ scores and comments are attached.”
Faculty members review their FCQ feedback and are expected to use it when making their performance plans for the upcoming year.
According to Ross, the English department manages FCQs by passing them on via merit evaluations to the director of the writing program, then the English Department Chair, then onto the Dean’s Instructor Review Committee and finally the Dean of the College of Letters Arts and Sciences.
“We essentially get to read them and use them to support the story that we’re trying to tell about our year of teaching,” Ross said. “Our director historically has said that if there are one or two off-the-wall comments from students ‘not a big deal’…but as soon as there’s a pattern that’s when it becomes an issue that an instructor is expected to address in their evaluation.”
In addition to providing a summary of their teaching year, instructors also score themselves on a 0-5 scale, in which Ross says FCQs are supposed to account for 30% of the score.
“They’re supposed to weigh fairly heavily, but we only get less than 1,000 words to write about our whole year, and that’s teaching and service and research and everything we do,” Ross said, noting that each individual FCQ including comments and survey answers are available to everybody up the chain of command.
Ross added that FCQs are available for public view. While comments that are freely written by students are not publicly visible, it’s possible for students to see the survey answers from past semesters.
UCCS switched FCQ systems to Watermark Course Evaluation (formerly EvaluationKIT) in fall 2019, and results from fall 2019 to the present can be viewed here, but FCQs for semesters prior to the switch are also available.
“Everybody knows about Rate My Professor. Rate My Professor is terrible because the only people who write reviews are people who are unhappy,” Ross said, recommending students use public FCQs to find the instructor that they will feel the most comfortable with based on earlier feedback.
FCQs for the main campus semester will close Dec. 9. Student feedback is critical to improve the classes available at UCCS, better our faculty and assist students who want to know what instructors will best support them.
Students must complete FCQs every semester. Photo by Lillian Davis.