It’s that time of the semester again; finals are taking place and any scraps of extra credit for class can come in handy. For some professors at The Master’s College, the annual Course and Faculty Evaluation’s (CAFE) have their reputations to do the job.
If a student were to take five minutes to complete a CAFE report, they can gain two points for their World History class. Those two points can determine one percent of a students overall grade. While students rely on the grade difference, other students, faculty, and staff attach personal value to the CAFE reports.
CAFE reports started in the early 80’s at The Master’s College. The primary purpose was to allow students input for faculty members regarding the quality of the teaching and the course.
“No prof likes to get criticism, but a student taking any time to write something in the comment box means a lot to me. The best thing, if they are used correctly, is that they can make you a better teacher. The worst thing it can be is to penalize tough, good teaching” said Dr. John Stead, Vice President of Academic Affairs and current U.S. history professor.
CAFE reports are industry-wide. Every college has some sort of evaluating system; this is standard practice today throughout the United States.
“From my understanding we have a very sophisticated system. It is computerized and data based. I think we have an enviable system compared to a lot of other schools” history professor Jeffery Jensen said.
Not only do evaluations serve the students, but also individual faculty members for self-improvement. For the faculty as a whole, the CAFE reports are primarily used to assess areas of concern.
“My ultimate goal for all my faculty would be to help our staff to grow, mature, and be better at what they do,” Stead said.
The rating scale for a professor is between one and five. From the responses students have provided, most professors are at a four.
“It’s kind of crazy to think that the faculty is really doing that great of a job or the reality that the students really do like us,” Stead said.
However, there have been some problems within the evaluating process. Many times, great professors who are hard graders but demand a heavy work load will tend to have low CAFE rating results. On the other hand, faculty that do not require much work receive higher ratings. As the ratings can reveal more about the professors individually, the staff has had to be careful not to take the numbers and relate them personally to the professor and his/her character.
At the same time, some of the toughest TMC professors will get very high numbers because the students are respectful in knowing that their teachers and their major require hard work.
Every year, people overwhelmingly respond in ways that let professors know what to change and what not to change. The system is designed to record students’ answers and comments anonymously when the professors review them.
“To me, CAFE reports are 99% positive and 1% on the negative. The best part about them is how students will tell you what they think and I like to know what people think,” Jensen said, “In a negative sense, there is a small portion of students that may not value them and therefore don’t provide mature answers. I mean there isn’t a literal rule saying they cannot so there is an exception for the students.”
From students to the faculty, there is a variety of opinions and reliance on CAFE reports.
“They are here to stay because it gives students ability to input, and it’s very important to have student input,” Stead said.
By Kinley Kane