The Employer is continuing to consult with AASUA following the recommendations we provided on Student Perspectives of Teaching (SPOT) — the new student opinion survey tool replacing Universal Student Ratings of Instruction (USRI). Consultation takes place with AASUA Executive and staff members, as well as members of the Academic Affairs Committee.
The new SPOT questions have been finalized. AASUA has no comment on the questions, and instead defers to our recommendations that SPOT be re-evaluated on an ongoing basis, and that data produced through this ongoing re-evaluation be used to test whether SPOT results differ systemically across gender, race, and other equity deserving demographics.
The Employer has informed us that the new SPOT questions will be used in Fall 2023 and Winter 2024 student surveys for 2023-24 reporting. The current upcoming Faculty Evaluation Committee (FEC) and Academic Teaching Staff Evaluation Committee (ATSEC) cycles uses the old USRI questions but includes the change to non-numerical reporting we fought for in the last round of bargaining.
We have been informed of two separate reports the Employer intends to produce with SPOT data when fully implemented:
- The “Proposed UASPOT Survey Report” (slide 15 of this presentation), which shows the frequency distribution of student responses in relation to the non-numerical reporting by question category; and
- The “Proposed Data Table for Instructors” (slide 16), which breaks down the frequency distribution by specific questions.
While the first report will go to Chairs, Deans, instructors, and be shared with Students’ Union and Graduate Students’ Association (GSA), we have been told the second report will only go to instructors. The Collective Agreement states, where “the frequency distribution of student responses will be reported only in relation to the non-numerical responses selected on questionnaires (e.g., Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree)” [A6.03.4.1].
AASUA raised concerns with the second data table, which could easily be used to create the numerical reporting we are advocating against. However, we are pleased to hear the Employer intends to only share this report with instructors; individuals can use their own discretion with this data table when it is provided to them.
One outstanding concern AASUA has involves the sharing of these reports with students. Though sharing reporting from survey data is a historical General Faculties Council (GFC) policy, approved by the Employer, AASUA remains concerned about the ongoing use of student survey data — which we have established is biased along lines of gender and race — being used for ‘course shopping.’ Given the proven biases inherent in survey tools, the sharing of these reports with students raises concerns about adverse impacts for equity deserving groups. We have raised these concerns with the Employer and will continue to monitor this issue as SPOT is assessed for bias.
AASUA is continuing to push the Employer to produce information to guide and inform Chairs, Deans, and instructors, about how SPOT differs from USRIs, and the new tool’s proper use in FEC and ATSEC. We are advocating for these guides to provide clarity on the changes that will enable a meaningful shift towards more equitable reporting, where SPOT is but one tool in a multi-faceted system of evaluation and review.