One of the projects I'm responsible for this year is revising our teaching evaluations and the evaluation process, so that they give us better information for making personnel decisions and such.
If you've been around teaching for a while, you know these evaluations are historically fraught with problems. We know that. We've been working to figure out how we can make better evaluations and use them better, and I think we've made progress.
These are departmental things, sort of, though they also have to pass review up the line, so we have to be thoughtful in putting in what we really want, and also convince those up the line that what we want should be there. I think we're reasonable, and up the line is reasonable, so we need to do a good job and it will be fine.
What I'd like to ask you folks: have you found a good way to get at issues of inclusion or inclusivity in teaching evals?
Part of the problem is the language of "inclusion" or "inclusivity" is very contextual; it may be what faculty and administrators use, but I'm not sure that students will understand what we mean.
What we're after is a way of caring about and demonstrating that we care about instructors treating students decently, especially around issues of race, gender, social class, sexual orientation.
We don't want instructors making exclusionary racist comments, for example.
But more important, we want to recognize the efforts some instructors make to get students to grapple with difficult issues of racism, say, and to think critically about their beliefs and actions.
How do we encourage and recognize those efforts, and also recognize that those challenges aren't going to make every student feel comfortable, and that, in fact, sometimes discomfort is useful? But we want to cause discomfort intellectually to those who need to be challenged, and not personally, especially for those who are challenged all too often.
We want to make what's been historically difficult, especially for people without tenure who challenge students to think hard about race, say, and thus make some students usefully uncomfortable, into something we can encourage and positively recognize.
Do your teaching evals do this? And if they do, can you share some, please?