SU VP academic Shannon O'Connor will work with administration to make professor ratings more relevant to students and faculty.
Alex Ramadan/the Gauntlet

USRI response rate up, slightly

SU, administration to examine professor rating system

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It turns out some students are actually completing their Universal Student Ratings of Instruction.

The results of last semester's USRIs were released Jan. 15. The response rate increased by about 10 per cent over 2005 levels, to a total of 46 per cent. With this new participation rate, university and student officials alike are hopeful.

"We're moving in the right direction in terms of response," said Dr. Robert E. Woodrow, University of Calgary associate vice-president academic. "The rates are steadily going upward."

Woodrow noted a higher response rate increases the reliability of the results and is more useful for students as they choose courses.

Despite the increased response rate, the Students' Union is still looking to make improvements to further student interest in the USRIs and increase their usefulness for the university.

The SU is proposing to alter the questions and the number of questions, rename the evaluations and make questions applicable to staff, faculty and teaching assistants.

"We're consulting with many different people on this issue," explained SU vice-president academic Shannon O'Connor. "We hope to propose the changes within the next month, as the process of changing things takes a long time and there are many different opinions on the changes."

Proposals were put forward to make the USRIs mandatory, citing this ensures the most reliable response rates. O'Connor disagrees with this proposal.

"Making USRIs mandatory will make students frustrated and likely skew the results," said O'Connor. "We want to focus more on incentives for completing them rather than forcing people to do them."

While USRI response rates have increased, results will not be posted for courses where participation was less than 20 per cent, or eight students.

"Some of the smaller classes are not surveyed," explained Woodrow. "Out of 2,000 courses evaluated, 242 had less than eight students enrolled, which does contribute to the 836 courses that had less than 20 per cent response rate."