7 March 2003

TO: University Senate Executive Committee

FROM:  Gary A. Gigliotti, Director, Teaching Excellence Center
              Monica A. Devanas, Director, Faculty Development and Assessment Programs

SUBJECT: Update on Student Instructional Rating Survey items
1.  Instruction, Curricula and Advising Committee, Response to Charge S-0008, to "Review and report on the feasibility/desirability of posting student instructional rating data online"
2. Faculty Affairs and Personnel Committee, Charge S-0109, “Best Practices in Assessment of Teaching.”

During the past two years the Teaching Excellence Center has been working to implement the recommendations of both committees; placing of the SIRS summary statistics online (Charge S-0008) and supporting “Best Practices in Assessment  of Teaching” (Charge S-0109).  We would like you to know about some of the progress we have made in addressing the recommendations made by these committees.

The SIRS summary statistics have been available to the University community at http://sirs.rutgers.edu since September 2001.  The response by students and faculty to the availability of this information has been overwhelmingly positive.  As we expected, the periods in which the site is most often visited are during registration and the drop/add period.  (To see usage data, please visit http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/stats/web/sirs.rutgers.edu/).  For example in October 2002 the daily average hit rate was 1294 and for November 2002 it was 1501.  In January 2003, the daily average hit rate surged to 1845, spiking on the first three days of the term (January 21, 5656 hits; January 22, 5898 hits; January 23, 2464 hits).  What we did not expect, however, was frequent visits to the site at other periods of the year.  The only months during which the daily average hit rate is below 500 are June and July.  Therefore, from this information and from our discussion with faculty and administrators, we know that all members of the University community are finding this information useful throughout the year.

The TEC has also been improving our management of the SIRS data and of our processing system.  Our Administrative Assistant, Melissa Malana has been working on developing a database for all the SIRS data that can be queried. A lot of work remains to be done on this project, but we expect to have a searchable database by Fall 2004.  In addition, we know departments are struggling with the issue of storage of student comments located on the reverse side of the SIRS form.  We have learned recently that National Computer Systems has developed a new scanner that will scan the comments while scanning in the machine readable area, i.e. questions on the front of the form. This month we will meet with technical staff of NCS at ETS in Princeton to see a demonstration of the new model and investigate its usefulness for Rutgers needs.