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Evaluation of Teaching: Twin Cities, Crookston, Morris, Rochester

Policy Contents
Effective Date: April 2009
Last Update: April 2009
Responsible University Officer:
  • Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Policy Owner:
  • Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs
Policy Contact:
CONSULTED WITH: Faculty Senate

Printed on: . Please go to for the most current version of the Policy or related document.



Evaluation of teaching provides information (1) to help improve teaching, (2) to be used for faculty tenure decisions and salary and promotion decisions based on merit, and (3) to assist students in course selection. This policy establishes standards and processes for three methods of evaluating teaching: peer review, student rating, and student-release questions for the campuses of Crookston, Morris, Rochester, and the Twin Cities.

The policy includes provisions for use of common student-rating questions, which is one means of making judgments on teaching effectiveness University-wide and allows calculation of statistical norms. While student rating of teaching is important, it should not be used in isolation; student-rating data alone do not have the resolution necessary to distinguish among instructors who receive similar ratings. Student rating data may be used with other types of information to identify very good instructors who deserve rewards as well as instructors who may need assistance in improving their classroom effectiveness. When used for salary, promotion, and tenure decisions, these data must be used in conjunction with other relevant metrics.

A. General Provisions for Evaluation of Teaching

  1. The teaching performance of all instructors, regardless of their academic rank or tenure status, is subject to evaluation. This policy therefore applies to all who deliver instruction regardless of academic rank or appointment status. Certain provisions govern only tenured and tenure-track faculty. Unless provisions are explicitly limited to tenured and tenure-track faculty or to tenure decisions, they apply to all faculty and instructional staff. This policy applies to teaching assistants who deliver instruction.
  2. For tenured and tenure-track faculty, the required evaluation of teaching for tenure and promotion decisions must follow Board of Regents Policy: Faculty Tenure.
  3. Personnel decisions (e.g., merit and salary reviews, promotion, tenure for tenure-track faculty) for all faculty and instructional staff whose salary is based in any part on teaching will include review, by appropriate department, college, and University officers, of all numeric data from the rating forms from their courses. All student rating data used in personnel decisions must be accompanied by the response rates for the data. Data and information from student ratings will not be used in isolation from peer evaluation of instruction.
  4. Teaching-evaluation information used for personnel decisions remains private data, as required by State of Minnesota law at the time this policy is adopted. The results must be shared with the instructor being reviewed. Access to information on a specific instructor must be restricted to those responsible for decisions on reappointment, promotion, tenure, and salary adjustments.
  5. The academic unit must maintain an appropriate record of the instructor's contributions to the teaching mission of the University. The instructor must have the opportunity to update the documentation regularly. It is the responsibility of the academic unit to retain appropriate portions of this material, including cumulative summaries of student ratings of the instructor's courses. Each unit has the responsibility to maintain the material in the file as private data and as required by University policy and applicable law.
  6. Department and college administrators should be evaluated in part on the extent to which they effectively implement this policy and should be held accountable for timely assessment of the evaluative materials assembled for each instructor.
  7. Instructors must always be allowed to respond to student rating results by adding written comments to their files that are communicated to individuals responsible for personnel decisions.
  8. Academic unit heads have the responsibility to encourage instructors to conduct mid-semester course evaluations for the purpose of improving teaching.
  9. Responsibility for implementing this policy rests with the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, the Senior Vice President for the Health Sciences, and deans and department heads, all of whom must convey clearly to instructors the emphasis being placed on teaching in decisions regarding promotion, tenure, and merit-pay increases.

B. Peer Evaluation of Teaching

  1. Peer review process.
    1. Every academic unit will have a documented process for peer review of every instructor’s teaching efforts and contributions to teaching, both for purposes of promotion decisions and for teaching-based salary increases. The academic unit should evaluate instructors in ways appropriate to the discipline, and include consideration of activities outside the classroom such as facilitating student research, advising students, and other activities related to students' educational programs.
    2. The peer-review process must include consideration of any additional materials identified by the instructor as relevant to the evaluation. Instructors are encouraged to prepare and regularly update a teaching portfolio that contains materials that will be considered during his/her evaluation.
  2. Faculty peer review.
    1. Faculty peers evaluate tenured and tenure-track faculty. Academic units should refer to Board of Regents Policy: Faculty Tenure, Administrative Policy: Faculty Compensation, and Administrative Procedure: Reviewing Candidates for Tenure and/or Promotion: Tenure-Track and Tenured Faculty for information on how they should structure these reviews.
    2. Both faculty and instructional staff may participate in the evaluation of all instructors who are not tenured or tenure-track faculty.
  3. For peer review for teaching-related merit pay increases for all instructors, the faculty or instructional staff, as appropriate, in each unit must decide whether they want to conduct the teaching assessment themselves or delegate that responsibility to their dean or head or chair, or to an advisory group within the unit or college
  4. For all instructors, peer review should include assessment of the instructor's knowledge of the subject matter, general contributions to departmental teaching efforts, and any other teaching contributions. Best practices might include a review of the following:
    1. an appropriately cumulative listing of courses taught by the instructor
    2. a comprehensive syllabus for each course
    3. course objectives and expected learner outcomes
    4. examples of exams, assignments and handouts prepared by the instructor
    5. development of new courses or innovative instructional materials, authorship of texts or laboratory manuals, or publications on discipline-specific teaching techniques
    6. assessment of student performance on certification exams (if appropriate to the discipline)
    7. a listing of undergraduate and graduate students undertaking independent study under the supervision of the instructor
    8. a survey of the extent of mentoring and participation in other activities related to instruction
    9. direct assessment of an instructor's classroom performance
    10. dissertations and theses supervised by the instructor
    11. teaching awards received by the instructor
    12. other activities that pertain to the teaching mission of the unit (e.g. participation in teaching-related committee work or curriculum development, publication of textbooks or study guides, participation in educational development programs, conferences, and workshops, etc.)
    13. the instructor's articulation of his or her teaching philosophy, and accomplishments

C. Student Rating of Teaching

  1. Every course with a University course number will be rated by the use of student rating forms every time it is offered, except that thesis-only credits, directed or independent study, and internships will not be rated using such forms. For courses with one instructor but multiple components (e.g., lab, lecture, recitation, etc.), departments have the discretion, to evaluate the components separately. For courses with multiple components, each taught by a different instructor, each component should be evaluated separately.
  2. The standard student rating form described in this policy will be used except that:
    1. In courses with more than two instructors, departments and/or colleges that wish to use alternative evaluation procedures must seek written approval from the Senate Committee on Educational Policy.
    2. Academic units in which student evaluation procedures must meet national accreditation standards may use alternative evaluation procedures with written approval from the Senate Committee on Educational Policy.
    3. A department that wishes to use an alternative form for a course must receive written approval from the Senate Committee on Educational Policy.
  3. The student rating forms will be anonymous and must be provided to all students present when the evaluation is conducted, or to all students enrolled in the class if it is offered online. Students who have withdrawn from the course may not participate in the evaluation of that course.
  4. Instructors may require students to participate in course ratings but any system of student rating, whether paper or electronic, must include an opt-out provision allowing students to decline to respond to questions. This provision applies to all courses at the University, including any that are covered by a different rating protocol.
  5. Students must be told that their ratings will be used in making personnel decisions.
    1. The instructions for students written on the student rating forms should stress the three purposes of the form: evaluation of instructors, improvement of teaching, and assistance to future students in selecting courses (the "student release" questions). The instructions should also explain why demographic data are being collected.
    2. Directions given on student evaluation questionnaires will include the following statement:

      "Your responses to this questionnaire are important because they will be used in tenure, promotion, and salary decisions for your instructor. Your thoughtful written comments are especially requested, and may help your instructor improve future course offerings. The results of this evaluation (including the evaluation forms) will not be returned to the instructor until after the final grades are submitted for this course."

  6. If a paper form is used, student-rating forms must be administered during a regular class period during the last two weeks of the term and in a class period that all students are expected to attend.
  7. If a paper form is used, administering student evaluations will be the responsibility of each academic unit. The instructor may give instructions about filling out the forms, but the evaluations will be handed out, completed, and collected without the instructor being present, although another faculty member or a staff member may be present to supervise the process. Once collected, evaluations will be put in a sealed envelope or box. A student may be asked to hand out and collect the forms. Each instructional unit will develop its own practices for ensuring that the completed forms are delivered promptly and without changes to the appropriate data-processing office and are handled appropriately as private data under Minnesota law. The instructor must not touch or see completed forms until after his or her grades are turned in.
  8. Department heads will be provided with information on the appropriate interpretation and use of student rating data in making personnel decisions and are responsible for distributing it to all individuals involved in personnel decisions based on teaching. Responsibility for providing this information to department heads rests with the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, the chancellors, and the deans. Training for new department heads/chairs and for deans should include this information. Faculty, department heads, and committees should also be provided with guidelines on how to interpret open-ended student comments.
  9. The faculty governance body of each college or campus will determine whether and how written comments on student evaluation forms may be used in personnel decisions. In units where all written comments on students' evaluations are sent to the chair and/or to reviewing-bodies and are included in the file, unfairly prejudicial comments will be withheld from the file upon request of the instructor concerned and accordingly will not be part of annual or other reviews. The decision whether particular comments are unfairly prejudicial will be made by the chair, a senior faculty member designated through a process determined by the department, or a standing or ad-hoc committee. This provision is intended to cover scurrilous, racist, sexist, homophobic, and other personal comments, and is not intended to exclude from the file negative comments directly related to the course.
  10. Standard student rating form provisions
    1. The student rating form will contain the following questions:
      1. The instructor was well prepared for class.
      2. The instructor presented the subject matter clearly.
      3. The instructor provided feedback intended to improve my course performance.
      4. The instructor treated me with respect.
      5. I have a deeper understanding of the subject matter as a result of this course.
      6. My interest in the subject matter was stimulated by this course.
    2. Each of the six questions will have the following scale attached to it on the form that is provided to students:
      6 - Strongly agree
      5 - Agree
      4 - Somewhat agree
      3 - Somewhat disagree
      2 - Disagree
      1 - Strongly disagree
    3. The form will also include the following open-ended questions:
      1. What did the instructor do that most helped your learning?
      2. What could you have done to be a better learner?
      3. Additional comments.
    4. The following question will be included on the student rating form: “How would you rate the physical environment in which you take this class, especially the classroom facilities, including the effect of the environment on your ability to see, hear, concentrate, and participate?”

      The question will have the following scale attached to it:

      1 - Very Poor
      4 - Satisfactory
      7 - Exceptional

      The data from this question will be linked to specific building and room numbers and the summary data by room number will be provided to the chief academic officer and appropriate classroom management office on each campus to help guide decisions on facilities resource allocation. (Variants of this question should be developed for classes that use multiple rooms, for field study class, for on-line classes, and for other classes that differ from the lecture-in-one-room format.)

    5. The rating form will ask for information on the student's major, GPA and class year, whether or not the course is in the student's major, and whether the course is required or elective for the student, because these factors have been shown in prior research to have an effect on student evaluations.
    6. There will be a request, marked optional, for information on the student's age, gender, and race or ethnicity because that information can be useful to instructors in understanding how different groups respond to his/her teaching. An instructor or academic unit may request analysis of data by age, gender, or race or ethnicity, but the analysis will not be released if there are fewer than five students in the class in a requested category.
  11. Supplemental questions.
    In addition to the questions required by the preceding sections of this policy, the University will establish a website with supplemental questions for the student rating process. Supplemental questions from the website may be selected by the instructor or by the academic unit for inclusion on the form, following procedures established by the Office of the Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. Provision will also be made for instructors or departments, should they choose, to add a reasonable number of custom questions that are not included in the bank. In addition, instructors may ask students to answer supplemental questions in the open-ended section of the standard rating form, on a separate sheet, or online.
  12. Use of data from supplemental questions.
    1. If the instructor selects supplemental questions, the results are to be used solely for improving teaching and the results will go solely to the instructor.
    2. If supplemental questions are selected by a department or college, that unit will develop and make available to instructors a written policy that defines which data from the supplemental questions will be used (1) for improvement of teaching, (2) for personnel decisions, and (3) for improving courses or programs. Units must consult with the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost's office on such supplemental questions and how they will be used. Data used solely for teaching improvement will be provided only to the instructor. Data to be used for personnel decisions will be available to individuals charged with reviewing instructor performance. Data to be used for course and program improvement will be available to curriculum committees and similar bodies only in aggregated form and will not be identified with individual instructors. In all instances, the data will be provided to the instructor.
  13. Each campus will determine which office is responsible for processing student-rating data. Each campus administration will provide the instructor and the unit chair/head with a summary of the data. This summary will include appropriate statistical characterization of the responses to each question and, where a statistically meaningful database exists, comparison to the responses for the same question on a campus, college, department, and program basis. To make comparative analysis more meaningful, there will also be comparisons on the basis of class type (e.g., large lecture, small discussion, laboratory, upper or lower division, elective, needed to meet university or major requirements). As resources permit, other types of statistical processing and comparisons may be added at the request of faculty or instructional units.
  14. The original completed student-rating forms will be returned to the instructor, with the student demographic information removed. Information from electronic forms will be made available to the instructor.

D. Student-Release Questions

The student-rating form will also include the following questions, the responses to which will, with the consent of the instructor, be made available to students. The responses to these questions must not be used in any reappointment, promotion, salary, or (for tenure-track faculty) tenure decisions without the permission of the instructor.

Changes in these questions require the joint approval of the Student Senate and the Faculty Senate.

Each semester an appropriate University administrator should send a message to every instructor who is receiving data from a course evaluation with a request to make the release questions available to students.

Instructors are permitted to release the results of the student-release questions at any time.

These questions were selected by the Student Senate to provide future students with information about the course.

  1. Approximately how many hours per week do you spend working on homework, readings, and projects for this course?
    • 0-2 hours per week
    • 3-5 hours per week
    • 6-9 hours per week
    • 10-14 hours per week
    • 15 or more hours per week
  2. Compared to other courses at this level, the amount I have learned in this course is
    • less.
    • about the same.
    • more.
    • I have not taken other courses at this level.
  3. Compared to other courses at this level, the difficulty of this course is
    • less.
    • about the same.
    • more.
    • I have not taken other courses at this level.
  4. I would recommend this course to other students.
    • Yes
    • No
  5. I would recommend this instructor to other students.
    • Yes
    • No
Rate your instructor in terms of the following characteristics.
  Agree Somewhat Agree Somewhat Disagree Disagree Not Applicable
6. Is approachable          
7. Makes effective use of course readings          
8. Creates worthwhile   assignments          
9. Has a reasonable grading system          


This policy is not applicable to the Duluth campus.


Teaching evaluations that are consistently administered across colleges and campuses by will provide formal feedback on courses and instruction.


There are no procedures related to this policy.


There are no forms related to this policy.


There are no appendices related to this policy.


There is no FAQ related to this policy.


Primary Contact(s)
Twin Cities Campus
Morris Campus
Rochester Campus


Common student-rating questions
Questions common to all evaluations completed by students that assess instructor preparedness, presentation, feedback, respectfulness, student understanding as a result of the course, and interest in the subject as a result of the course. The form also includes open-ended questions on the learning experience. The physical environment of the course is also assessed on the student rating form.


There are no specific responsibilities related to this policy.



April 2009
April 2009

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Last modified on December 17, 2014