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Students Feedback, Best teacher award etc.
Dr. Amruth Kumar wrote
Dear Dastagiri Reddy,
This is to express my dissent over an item (item number 3 of 05/2014 Any other item with the permission of the chair) in the minutes of the GBM held on 08 October 2014. The resolution of the item says that “Members opined that best teacher award based on student feedback should be scrapped”.

Unfortunately I am a recipient of Best teacher award for the last five years consecutively (from its year of initiation to the latest). I was startled to listen to the fierce criticisms (a postmortem of these criticisms is not my intention so I don’t quote any of them) on the practice of student evaluation of teachers. Believe me I too have criticisms about the practice in an academic point of view. But decision to scrap is not a creative suggestion, I believe. Do we remove any of our organs if it has damage? Instead of suggesting creative suggestions to make it more robust and a source of motivation to the teachers it is quite unfortunate to note that our decision is to demand a scrap of it.

I request you to think over strategies to improve the system with necessary modifications. For example, if we have criticism over the items we should suggest change of items and modify the tool used for the evaluation. Also, those teachers who are getting the award for more than three times need not be considered for next three years for the award. I hope that our erudite academic members will contribute innovative suggestions to improve the practice, if it is mooted in our meetings.

I have to answer a very genuine question before ending this note. The question is ‘why you didn’t speak about it when we discussed it in the GBM’. My answer is, I was not prepared about it, as it was taken for discussion as an out of agenda item. Also if I speak out there, I fear that, my arguments would have been unorganised in the zeal of supporting the practice. Still, kindly accept my apologies for the late response over the issue.

Best regards,
Amruth G Kumar
School of Education
Dr. Prasanth Ravindran wrote
Dear Dr.Reddy,
I would also like to make the following points to your kind attention. Any organization can follow the majority decision.
However, as a democratic organization of highly educated people, I think we can have a healthy discuss about the issue pointed out by Dr. Amruth G Kumar. I also think scrapping of student's feedback is not a good solution. We need students feedback, may be in a different way and that should help to improve our self. If the questioners are not scientific it must be corrected. In some feedback sheets you can see 50- 100% error bar against some questions. You all know what is the error bar allowed in a scientific publication. What I understand is they don't know how to take students feed back and do the analysis in a scientific way. However, this limitations should not leads to the scrapping of feedback.
Even if we didn't get the award that doen't mean that we are all poor teachers. A weak student may not be able to correctly judge a faculty with very high standard. Questions may be not understandable for students. some questions are even funny "like the dressing, personality etc". What ever be the limitations, my humble request is "let us listen and understand the students opinion". If it is useful we can make necessary corrections.

Prof. Priya Davidar wrote
Dear Colleagues,

The objective this exercise is to evaluate the faculty based on core competence and professionalism and to help the teacher improve his/her teaching ability. I am not sure whether this objective has been achieved. The statistics used with huge error bars is certainly a problem. Many teachers who have been on leave have apparently received good evaluations (this might be a rumour) calling into question the reliability of this exercise.

We certainly need to be evaluated: The questionnaire itself is faulty and needs to be focused on the course itself, whether it is up to standard, includes latest development in the field, the difficulty of the course, the quality and fairness of the exams and evaluation, whether the teacher encourages discussions and experiential learning etc.

Requiring information on the faculty's temperament certainly puts many of us in a bad mood, because we have to deal with students who don't show up on time, don't show up at all, do not do their assignments, are not at all serious, and many who have language difficulties and do not understand what is taught etc. We certainly should have evaluations but serious thought needs to go into designing the form and it should not be award driven.

Priya Davidar

Dr. Priya Davidar FAAAS
Pondicherry University
India 605014
Secretary, PUTA wrote
Dear Colleagues

A discussion has been generated about one of the GBM resolutions, no. 05/2014-4. let me reproduce the resolution here.

Prof. Lazarus raised the issue of giving best teacher award based on students’ feedback. He argued that such feedback can at best be given to the teachers for their improvement, but they cannot be judged based on this feedback. Members agreed with Prof. Lazarus and opined that the ‘best teacher award’ based on student feedback should be scrapped and resolved to give a representation to the University not to use students’ feedback for judging/evaluating teachers.

As you see in this resolution, the GBM did not vote for scrapping 'students' feedback' outrightly. It only said 'teachers should not be judged/evaluated based on students' feedback'. Since the 'best teacher' award is outcome 'judgement/evaluation' based on 'students' feedback, the members felt that the award should be scrapped (not the feedback). If you ask me for my personal opinion, I have no problem for using this feedback for giving best teacher award. However, I strongly oppose using this feedback for punishing teachers (like extending probation, using it for not promoting in CAS or direct recruitment etc.). Of course, my vote in GBM is only one, like Amruth's or Prasanth's. The majority wins. Though I also did not come prepared, I had a very clear cut opinion about this.

Since the GBM did not reject 'student feedback', I would like to add one more point here. The way the feedback is collected in PU is totally wrong. When I was a student in IITK, a person appointed by HOD used to come to the class and ask the teacher to step aside and collect the feedback 'only for that teacher'. Here, the students are asked to give feedback for 'all teachers' of the department at once in 10 to 15 minutes. Is this called feedback? P&D wing doesn't have the list of courses currently taught and therefore students are asked to give feedback for all the teachers, even if they are on leave. Why do we need P&D to collect feedback? Why cannot HOD do the job and send it to admn in a sealed cover? Again, what is the guarantee that the same forms are used for making the report (well, if the students feedback is not used for any purpose other than purely for teachers' improvement, this question will not arise)? To check this, before distributing the forms to the students, teacher's signature should be obtained on blank forms (equal to the no. of students).

In future we can go for voting on on several issues. It is possible only when all the members register on the website.
Dastagiri Reddy
Dr. N. Dastagiri Reddy,
General Secretary, PUTA
Dept. of Chemistry
Dear Colleagues,
Its quiet interesting to see discussions on this board where we can share our opinion.
First of all let me congratulate the PUTA for having conducted the GB which is a first mile stone, and an attendance of 140 members shows a very promising future. It feels great to be a part of this wonderful group.

Now coming to the topic "giving best teacher award based on students’ feedback". I have received best teacher award in 2012, It in fact feels nice to receive, but there are many issues we need to check. Each teacher tries to give his or her best to the student, if I take the example of my department, we have teachers who are so dedicated and are available in the department even beyond the duty hours, supporting each and every student activity and their learning, In spite of doing all this they have not received even once. Each one should be recognized for their contribution and and should be honored for the same. A minimum cut off points can be kept and an appreciation letter would be such motivation to all who have scored above that.

This best teacher award does not offer any extra point or score in our IQAC or CAS. Then why should we give so much of importance.

In my earlier appointment at UOG, the hall invigilator  brings the feed back forms along with the question papers etc. The feed back form of the teacher whose exams the students are going to write on that particular day will be distributed before exam and 15 minutes time is given to complete the form, after the feed back is collected the question paper is distributed. The hall invigilator collects the feed back and seals the cover and that goes to admin straight. before the next semester starts the feed back evaluation is given the concerned teacher with all confidentiality maintained.  It feels nice to read the feedback and improve to make modification in our teaching.

I have not received my feed back for the last two years, I had gone to the concerned office to collect it yesterday, they told they have not given to anyone. I wonder why the feed back was taken from students, what was the purpose??
Anyway, I wish the university should recognize and motivate every effort of teachers at large, and not keep rewarding same teacher over and over again, every one needs motivation and appreciations.

I wish ‘best teacher award’ based on student feedback should be scrapped.


Sherry Abraham
Department of Tourism Studies.
Pondicherry University
I believe most of us are not against the recognition being given annually to teachers who get high grades from the students.  The objection is to this being treated as the be-all-and-end-all of recognizing excellence.  Also the system of taking this feedback needs a through overhaul.

A set of awards, recognizing excellence in aspects such as course-development, innovation in teaching methodology, different aspects of research contributions to campus life and society in general, etc, as well as awards, based on student feedback, may perhaps be more apt.

S. A. Abbasi
Centre for Pollution Control and Environmental Engineering
Dear Colleagues,
Before jumping into expressing one’s views, let me be very clear on why one needs students’ feedback. It is essential, as it serves the purpose of knowing how a teacher could improve himself/herself. On the other hand, one of the sole criteria at PU is taking it as Dr. Reddy pointed for confirming probation period, for promotions and of course for the best teacher’s award. One needs to remember that pedagogical work has many parameters. These need to be evaluated objectively and without any prejudices. Teaching in a classroom is just one part of our work. We also need to share departmental work, inspire and motivate students, update ourselves, know how to judiciously evaluate students, understand their needs and set up proper assessment and so on. Teachers need to be assessed based on students’ criteria, peer evaluations and personal evaluations. It is a broad based structure as Dr. Lalitha rightly pointed out.
In our university, primarily the feedback forms are not well formulated. Secondly, they are not administered objectively and correctly. Thirdly, teachers are not provided a feedback. Fourthly, there is no orientation done to explain to the students what is expected and how they need to be impartial. Fifthly, the feedback if it taken, is done, when all the students are not in class. Date and time of the feedback should be coordinated in such a way that if not all, atleast majority of the students are present. Sixthly, feedback should be taken for all courses. There are teachers who teach soft cores and teachers in my department who teach integrated MA/M.Sc programs and no feedback is collected for this.
Finally, let me also point out that a healthy discussion had definitely come up in the GBM regarding this and at that point majority faculty as stated by Dr. Reddy were unhappy about the mode of finalizing the best teacher. It is also not true that same teachers are good all the time. All teachers definitely try to improve themselves. If same faculty are getting the awards over and over again or faculty who are on sabbatical/on leave are given then definitely all is not right.This was also one of the issues raised in the GBM It is precisely the form of the questionnaire, the mode by which it is administered, and using this as the only criteria that many of us are against not the teachers’ awards nor taking students’ feedback.
H. Kalpana
English Department
Prof. Lalitha Ramakrishnan wrote
Dear colleagues,

I think there is a need to have 360 degree appraisal which includes not
only students' assessment but also peer assessment, assessment by
Superiors,system orientation, assessments of parents and alumni,time spent
for mentoring and grooming with values, number of leaves taken by the
teachers, their contribution to find sponsors for deserving students and
encouragement given to students in intellectual and cultural
activities,teacher's contribution to placements,research and publications

I have personally shown to the P&D section so many times that some
students don't even understand the meaning of many of the criteria given
for assessment and some of them are overlapping.Assessments were taken
hastily with the help of attending staff most of the time.

The teachers must know their feedback and the HOD must be appraised of
what developments are required.I volunteer to improve upon the criteria
given for assessment and develop a decent performance appraisal system
for the University which can be discussed upon before implementation.

Thanking you.
Best regards,
Prof.Lalitha Ramakrishnan
Head,Dept. of Management,
Pondicherry University Karaikal Campus
Dr. N. Dastagiri Reddy,
General Secretary, PUTA
Dept. of Chemistry
You will be surprised to listen to this case. Students' feedback was taken on a faculty who taught them only seven classes and his probation was extended based on this judgement.
Dr. N. Dastagiri Reddy,
General Secretary, PUTA
Dept. of Chemistry

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