Online Subject Evaluation/
Who's Teaching What

Background

The project was undertaken to improve teaching and learning at MIT. Oversight groups such as the Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons and the Visiting Committee of the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education have stressed that assessment should be an Institute policy.

A Working Group on the Collection of Teaching Data was established in 2006 by Provost Rafael Reif and Dean for Undergraduate Education Daniel Hastings. It reported that MIT, like other universities, is under increased external pressure to report data and outcomes; but even without this pressure, having a more complete picture of the state of our education — including understanding how well students are learning, what contributes to that learning, and what may hinder it — can only benefit us. However, the limitations of the existing central paper-based subject evaluation system and the process of collecting teaching data made it difficult, if not impossible, to present timely and accurate feedback on the MIT educational experience.

The subject evaluation system was very slow and labor-intensive, and its database technology was old and in need of an upgrade. Survey forms were inflexible (questions needed to fit the form layout, and no additional open-ended questions could be asked), only three instructors for any single subject could be evaluated, and students who missed the class on the day which the forms were distributed did not have the chance to submit an evaluation.

A critical element of the subject evaluation process is the data on who is teaching what subject and what section within the subject, and who is enrolled in which section. In the old version of Who's Teaching What (WTW) used for collecting this data, it was not always possible to determine who is providing instruction to which students. There was no way to distinguish alternative teaching models (e.g., multiple faculty co-teaching one subject as distinct from different faculty teaching separate sections of the same subject). For those departments that kept their teaching data in an electronic system, there was no interface between their systems and WTW. There were no summary reports on teaching data by department, and no required core data.

The Working Group on the Collection of Teaching Data made recommendations to improve MIT's practices which became the charter for the project team:

The project team in turn identified issues and in 2007 made initial recommendations for implementation of an improved Who's Teaching What application and an Online Subject Evaluation system.

Policy and business process issues:

Technical issues:

Initial recommendations: