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Student Evaluations Consultation


Why should I consider a student evaluation consultation?

As any educator knows, receiving and reading student evaluations of teaching (SETs) at the end of the semester can be an anxious experience.  When students evaluate us negatively, and often even when they regard us positively, interpreting the results and contemplating their implications can be confusing and frustrating.  This is true because we aspire to be effective teachers and we care for our students, yet evaluations may provide limited information even as they bear heavily upon our professional progress.  We at the CFT understand these concerns and are experienced in helping educators make sense of their evaluations.  We also are equipped to help you develop a plan to address any problem areas in your teaching and to document your growth and development.


What is involved in this kind of consultation?

Consultations about student evaluations usually involve an open conversation about the context of the course in question and about possible analyses of student praise and critique.  This usually leads to a clearer understanding of successes and challenges in one’s teaching, which in turn helps to shape a plan for improvement.  It also may be the first of two or more consultations designed to assess and improve one’s teaching over a longer period.

As in all of our consults, any information shared between you and CFT staff is completely confidential, so as to allow the most free and open consultation possible.


Will the CFT discuss my student evaluations with my Chair or Dean?

In short, no.  Because all of our consultations are confidential, we do not communicate about your teaching with anyone.  This independence from the formal processes of review, promotion, and tenure is part of our charge as a center and fundamental to the ethics and effectiveness of our consultations.

That said, we will help you to analyze and reflect upon your teaching in ways that should help you to develop a thorough and thoughtful evaluation of your own teaching.  This may include reviewing and discussing self-evaluative statements on teaching.


Will the CFT provide documentation of my improvements for the purposes of professional review?

If you would like your department, program, or school to have some evidence of your participation in CFT consultations or other programs, we are happy to provide you with a Certificate of Participation to share with them.  The Certificate merely states that you participated in CFT consultations or other programs for a specific period, but will not discuss their content or results.


Who can request a student evaluation consultation?

Any faculty member, graduate student, or post-doc teaching at Vanderbilt can request a student evaluation consultation.  This is a free service the CFT provides to the Vanderbilt teaching community. For general information, see our teaching guide on Student Evaluations.


Who will my teaching consultant be?

If you’re a faculty member, you’ll likely meet with your CFT liaison, a staff member with some familiarity with the teaching landscape in your discipline.  If you’re a graduate student, you’ll meet with one of our staff charged with supporting graduate instruction who has experience teaching here at Vanderbilt.


When should I consider a student evaluation consultation?

You should schedule a student evaluation consultation whenever it is convenient for you, but most of our clients choose to have them soon after receipt of their evaluations.  This allows for more time to determine what implications they may have for future teaching and to adapt accordingly.


How do I schedule a student evaluation consultation?

To arrange a student evaluation consultation, call the CFT at 615-322-7290 or email our administrative assistant, Juliet Traub, at least a week in advance.  Juliet will schedule the consultation with one of our consultants.  At that time, it may be helpful to contact your consultant with any information you care to share about your evaluations and any outstanding concerns you may have.