Trinity University
Faculty and Contract Staff Handbook

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(6)    Instructional Policies, Responsibilities, and Guidelines












(Amended by the Academic Faculty May 1, 1984. Revised April 29, 1991. Revised October 19, 2007.)

For a summary of recent changes to this chapter, see Chapter 9A: Summary of Recent Revisions to this Handbook.

Contents of this page: 

  1. Purpose for Course Evaluations

  2. Formative and Summative Uses of Course Evaluations

  3. Guidelines for the Course Evaluation Instrument

  4. Amendment

Student evaluation of instruction is a necessary but incomplete mechanism for the evaluation of the total performance of an instructor. Kenneth Doyle, in his book, Student Evaluation of Instruction, illustrates the inadequacy of using only student evaluation of courses to evaluate the overall performance of a faculty member, as this mechanism taps only one source of information (students) using only one medium (questionnaire). This mechanism assesses the immediate reaction to the stimuli or input of the course materials, the instructor, and the social and physical environment in which the course occurred; it does not give an evaluation of a more reflective assessment which only time and retrospection can provide.

In addition to its singular nature as a source and medium, the student evaluation of instruction partially assesses only the teaching component of a faculty member’s contribution to the Trinity University community. It does not directly assess a faculty member’s scholarly, artistic, or professional productivity, service to the community, or service to the profession. The systematic evaluation of members of the faculty should include mechanisms of evaluation for all these areas. In addition, evaluation should be viewed as an essential and necessary part of the University’s nature and function, and should apply to all members of the University community, including administrators.


The purposes for student evaluation of courses and faculty are:

A.    To furnish information for the individual faculty member to use in assessing his/her course content and presentation.

B.    To provide the individual student with an opportunity to offer constructive criticism to his/her instructor.

C.    To provide the individual faculty member with data that may be used in support of his/her considerations for promotion, tenure, and salary increments.

D.    To provide the student body with a voice in developing and maintaining an effective Faculty and curriculum.

E.    To provide data that may assist in making curricular decisions.


Student course/instructor evaluations shall be administered, in combination with other measures of teaching effectiveness, for formative (i.e., for faculty self-improvement) and for summative (i.e., for merit salary, reappointment, promotion, and tenure).

A.    Student course/instructor evaluations shall be used for summative purposes (i.e., for merit salary, reappointment, promotion, and tenure) only in combination with other measures of teaching effectiveness. Separate measures, agreed upon by the tenured members of each department, will be described in a report to the Vice President for Faculty & Student Affairs, and the report will be sent to the Committee for the Evaluation of Courses and Faculty. Any changes in a department's method should be documented in the same manner.

B.    The instrument to be used for student course/instructor evaluations will consist of a University-wide form, with a set of items common to all uses and a set of items specific to the academic department or curricular unit (e.g., First-Year Seminar Steering Committee). Departments may develop sets of items for different types of courses (e.g., lab vs. lecture). The specific items will be included in the report to the Vice President for Faculty & Student Affairs and the Committee for the Evaluation of Courses and Faculty (together with the description of additional measures described in Section II.A). The use of the student course/instructor evaluation instrument for summative purposes is compulsory every semester, including summer school. However, there will be no evaluation of courses and faculty using the University-wide forms for classes taught off campus during the summer. Faculty wishing to evaluate such courses may do so using their own or departmental forms.

C.    The completed instrument shall be collected, tabulated, and returned to the faculty member under the supervision of the Committee for the Evaluation of Courses and Faculty. The summary reports shall include the percentages and frequencies of responses to all questions. Means, calculated to one decimal point, and medians will also be provided on all evaluative questions unless departments request not to receive them. The original forms and the tabulations shall be returned to the instructor after grades are due. Copies of the tabulations shall be sent to the Chair of the department. Each faculty member will give the original summative forms for courses taught during each semester to the departmental Chair after having had an opportunity to examine them. They will be returned to the faculty member after the merit review process is completed by the departmental Chair. In the case of departmental Chairs, the same process will be followed by substituting the Vice President for Faculty & Student Affairs (VPFSA) for the Chair.

D.    The faculty member may write an analysis of the evidence for teaching effectiveness as part of the annual Summary of Professional Activities. The Chair shall write his or her own analysis of the evidence, from both student course/instructor evaluations and additional measures, as part of the annual merit review and send a copy of this analysis to the faculty member. The faculty member may write a rejoinder to the Chair’s analysis directly to the VPFSA, to be included in the merit review documentation. In the case of departmental Chairs, the same process will be followed by substituting the VPFSA for the Chair. 

E.    The University shall provide faculty members with support services which will aid them in the improvement of teaching skills.


The instrument for student evaluation of courses and faculty shall meet the following guidelines:

A.    At least some of the questions shall allow for narrative responses.

B.    The common questions will be proposed by a committee jointly appointed for this purpose by the Faculty Senate and the Association of Student Representatives, with the understanding, however, that a majority of the committee shall consist of members of the Academic Faculty.

C.    The common questions shall be approved, prior to their use, by the Academic Faculty.

D.    The Office of Academic Affairs will prepare envelopes containing the University-wide evaluation forms for all classes, regardless of size. For classes of under five students, departments may decide what to do for themselves. Individual faculty members should thus confer with their departmental Chairs to determine what to do in these classes.

In some cases, due to concerns about the anonymity of students, departments may decide that no courses of fewer than five students should be evaluated. In other cases, departments may decide to conduct evaluations of such courses using their own instruments and procedures for this purpose. In still other cases, departments may choose to use the University-wide forms for these small classes.

When the University-wide form is chosen, in some instances it may be desirable to combine different classes. However, to simplify the task for the Office of Information Technology Services (ITS), the evaluations, even though from different courses, should still be placed in one official white envelope, with its white label unaltered. ITS must know unambiguously what single course identification number under which to enter the data from all the surveys in the envelope. It will be up to the individual faculty and departments to remember what courses were thus combined. Any official white envelopes not used, along with any blank survey forms, should be returned to the Office of Academic Affairs.

E.  In consultation with the Committee for the Evaluation of Courses and Faculty, the Office of Academic Affairs will develop and implement a method for orienting all incoming students to the process of course/instructor evaluation.


Following approval by the Faculty Senate, proposed amendments to this document shall be circulated in writing to the Academic Faculty at least fourteen (14) days prior to the stated meeting of the Academic Faculty Assembly at which they will be considered. If passed by a majority of those present and voting at that meeting, they shall become effective at the beginning of the next academic year.

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This page was last modified on 06/01/12

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