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Topics/tags: Miscellaneous, Grinnell, academia, short

I hadn’t planned to say anything at today’s faculty meeting. I looked through the agenda, as I always do, and saw that our primary focus was on two aspects of end-of-course evaluations: our experiment with electronic EOCEs and language we are adding to help decrease the effects of implicit bias in evaluations. While I had some issues with the electronic EOCEs in the spring, the folks in the Office of Analytic Support and Institutional Research [1] were quite helpful, and I expect it will go more smoothly the next time I give EOCEs. I was also happy to see that the slides we received in advance of the meeting addressed one of the difficulties that I had encountered last year: Faculty aren’t allowed to add or change their own questions once the EOCEs are distributed [2]. What about the new language? I trust the committee that’s coming up with the language. I also didn’t see anything in the language that raised concerns.

As I said, I was planning to be quiet. However, I’m persnickety. And when the Chair of the Faculty put up last year’s motion about the electronic end-of-course evaluations, I realized that we were not following the specifics of the motion this semester. In particular, we had voted to open up the electronic EOCEs for the last two weeks of class [3] and the timetable we got for this semester had them open during only the last week of class [5]. I don’t have a strong opinion on that matter [6], but I do feel that what we do should match what we indicated we would do. And so I raised the issue. I even started to make a motion to approve the change for this semester when I learned that the plan was to return to the last week only [8] approach for the rest of the trial period. At that point, I wasn’t sure what motion to make, so I left it to someone else.

I had assumed that the motion would pass easily. I even suggested a good reason to pass the motion: If we move things up a week, the week to add questions to the EOCEs becomes Thanksgiving week. Nonetheless, the faculty voted to reject the motion, which means that things move up a bit.

I feel sorry for the folks who now have to get things ready a week earlier than they had planned [9]. And I feel a bit responsible, since I raised the issue in the first place. Am I too persnickety?

Perhaps not. A large number of faculty voted in a way to suggest that they wanted the two-week pre-finals period. So perhaps it’s good that I raised the issue. Or perhaps that means that I should have let someone else bring it up.

[1] Now called Analytics and Institutional Research.

[2] If I had read the instructions carefully last spring, I would have known that. I’m just glad that they emphasized it this year.

[3] Plus finals’ week [4].

[4] Or is that finals week without the apostrophe?

[5] Plus finals’ week.

[6] During my second year at Grinnell, I planned to give the EOCEs during week 13 because I had project presentations in week 14. The Associate Dean [7] informed me that I was only permitted to give EOCEs in week 14, preferably on Friday. Since then, I’ve done my best to follow the guidelines. That means that although I appreciated the extended timeline, I did not consider it essential.

[7] There was only one Associate Dean in those days.

[8] Plus finals’ week.

[9] It’s more like a week and a half earlier than they had planned, since someone noted that the Thanksgiving break meant that it should be ready by November 21 rather than December 2.

Version 1.0 of 2019-11-18.