Goal #1 of the UIS Strategic Plan states that “UIS will achieve academic excellence through excellence in teaching and learning and excellence in scholarship.”  Action Step #4 of the UIS Strategic Plan states that UIS will “Improve the assessment of learning outcomes and of teaching; use aggregated information from course evaluations to inform faculty development programming:  a) Establish and fund a program to support improvements in the assessment of learning outcomes and program review.  b) Adopt a new course evaluation instrument.  c) Implement a multidimensional approach to teaching evaluation.  d) Use the data from the improved teaching evaluation approach as the basis for issues addressed in faculty development programs.”

Presently, course evaluations are used for retention and promotion decisions and for course improvement.  Completion of student course evaluations is imperative in evaluating curricular trends and teaching effectiveness, particularly if no other assessment methods are performed (Hatfield & Coyle 2013).

Research suggestions that student ratings of courses and faculty are a reliable and useful method of evaluating teaching and course effectiveness (Kidd & Latif 2003).  In fact, student evaluations are as reliable as peer evaluations, provided that response rates are good (Paulsen 2002).  However, course evaluations should be used in conjunction with other evaluation tools, such as the peer evaluation and a teaching portfolio, when evaluating the effectiveness of an instructor.  Research has found that faculty members receiving the best evaluations are not always the most effective teachers according to students (Surratt & Desselle 2007).  The Dr. Fox Effect, as seen in the following video, suggests that a highly expressive presenter can earn high evaluations even when the content presented is nonsensical.