Faculty Votes to Allow Greater Flexibility In Written Instructor Reports

A Tuesday faculty vote has granted teachers more flexibility in writing instructor reports. Written instructor reports are no longer mandated at midterms or the end-of-term, although faculty technically have the opportunity to write reports six times a year. The system therefore neither requires nor restricts teachers to the former three-times-a-year system.

The goals of allowing the faculty this greater flexibility is as follows, according to a February 2013 memo from John Rogers, former Dean of Studies, on behalf of the Academic Council:

“These proposals are intended to serve the following goals:
• Facilitate the work of student teams in supporting students.
• Ensure more regular, consistent, useful and timely feedback to students and their parents.
• Help us avoid overlooking students who do not fall within our traditional reporting categories at the various checkpoints throughout the year.
• Serve as an incentive and reminder in our busy schedules to step back periodically and think deliberately about trends/patterns for each of our students.”

“I have a lot of faith that teachers here understand that students and parents want to read feedback… It’s really up to teachers what they write. But the grade and the grid will appear at midterm and end of the term. It’s really up to individual teachers consulting with teachers of the same course and with department chairs if and how much they write in the grid text-wise,” said Trish Russell, current Dean of Studies.

Although she could not disclose the exact tallies, Russell said the vote was extremely close. Many teachers expressed apprehension that under the new system they would feel pressured into writing all six instructor reports – both at midterm and the end of each term – even though it was not required, said Russell.

The motivation behind the change was to allow flexibility for courses that may function better with midterm reports and for teachers or courses who may choose to write reports at the end of each term, according to Russell.

By allowing teachers to choose the timing of their reports, Russell says the system allows teachers more time to write their reports than it did in the past, when faculty had only a few days after finals to write all instructor reports for the end of term.

“We want to be careful not to overload teachers with, ‘Write sixty long reports in two days.’ For teachers who teach four big sections, it’s a lot of work to write prose summaries,” said Russell.

The faculty also approved the continuation of the online grading system that began this Fall Term as a trial and mandated that all teachers submit midterm and end of term grades and “grids” online.

The new online “grid” system allows teachers to grade students on academic skills. At the end of term, grids and finalized grades on a 0-6 scale become accessible online to students and parents.

Note: A previous version of this article had a headline that incorrectly stated that instructor reports are optional. Teachers are, in fact, still required to write instructor reports. The Phillipian regrets the error.