A student thinks about a staff evaluation rating while a professor assists them. SF State faculty feel that the staff evaluation process needs improvements. (Alexis Alexander / Golden Gate Xpress) (Alexis Alexander)
A student thinks about a staff evaluation rating while a professor assists them. SF State faculty feel that the staff evaluation process needs improvements. (Alexis Alexander / Golden Gate Xpress)

Alexis Alexander

SF State faculty and representatives disagree with current staff evaluation structure

Lecturer faculty say they are disproportionately affected by end-of-the-semester staff evaluations, which may dictate promotion opportunities.

December 9, 2022

Staff evaluations are sent out campus-wide as each semester winds down and students begin to tune into vacation mode.

While often overlooked, Student Evaluations of Teaching Effectiveness carry more weight than students may realize.

Brad Erickson, the lecturer faculty vice president for SF State’s California Faculty Association chapter, said that SETE are  particularly important for lecturer faculty, unlike full-time faculty. 

“For tenure line faculty, they get evaluated on their research and scholarly and creative activity,” Erickson said. “They get evaluated on their service, participation, shared governments, etc. And they get evaluated on their teaching. For lecture faculty, we are only evaluated on our teaching. And this is supposed to be a combination of student and peer evaluations.”

Erickson doesn’t agree with the current setup or  the timing in the semester the SETE are  sent to students. Instead, he gives his students formative evaluations in the middle of the semester, rather  than  the current summative survey at the end of the semester. 

“I do formative evaluation, which I think should be the way we’re doing it,” Erickson said. “If you ask students mid-semester what’s going well, what could be going better, you still have the chance to adjust and make reasonable adjustments.” 

Ali Kashani, a lecturer faculty in the Political Science department for the last decade, questions the efficiency s the staff evaluation process.  

“Is that trying to prove the academic conditions that the students learn better and then professors can improve their teaching conditions and do a better job, or there is something else at work here?” Kashani said.

Kashani said that most university faculty, not just SF State staff, generally agree that the process of a student evaluation does not evaluate staff properly nor achieve its primary goal. 

“What it does instead, is it produces this sort of a system of surveillance, policing, discipline and finally, punishment, which translates itself in terms of promotion,” Kashani said. “And getting better pay and various other things.” 

Kashani feels this is an enormous problem for lecturer faculty because of job security. 

” [Evaluations]  limit academic freedom, because the professors are always worried whether students are  going to give a bad review,” Kashani said.

Amaal Greenwood-Goodwin, a senior Public Health major, takes pride in answering the SETE at the end of every semester.

“I think it’s helpful for them,” Greenwood-Goodwin said. “Some professors don’t care if you do it and they don’t say anything. But other professors will be like, ‘Oh, it’d be really nice if you did them. It helps me out.’ I can take five to 10 minutes to help them.”

Greenwood-Goodwin urges students to take advantage of SETE because they provide  an opportunity to give effective feedback to a professor. 

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About the Contributors
Photo of Luis Cortes
Luis Cortes, Staff Reporter
Luis Cortes (he/him) is a reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in recreation, parks, and tourism. He was born in Mexico but grew up in Richmond, California, where he currently lives. He previously worked for The Advocate, the student newspaper of Contra Costa Community College. During his free time, Luis enjoys hiking, watching sports and listening to podcasts.
Photo of Alexis Alexander
Alexis Alexander, Diversity Editor
Alexis Alexander (she/her) is the Diversity Editor for Golden Gate Xpress. She is a senior at SF State, majoring in journalism with a minor in race and resistance studies. She lives in San Francisco but grew up in Monrovia, California. Alexis enjoys writing about social and cultural issues. When she has a moment to herself she enjoys live music, matcha with oat milk and long walks in the city. After graduation she hopes to write or edit for a cultural news source or magazine like Rolling Stone.

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