SPoTs – Contract


Teaching performance of Contract faculty members is evaluated using two instruments: Student Perception of Instruction (SPoT) and Peer evaluations, as described in Articles 28.4.1 and 28.5.1 of the MRFA collective Agreement. Teaching expectations are the same for Contract faculty as for full-time faculty members.

Student Perception of Teaching – Overview of the SPoT Instrument

In the fall semester of 2017 a new instrument was approved for use by General Faculties Council to replace the previous Student Evaluation of Instruction. The Student Perception of Teaching (SPoT) instrument represents a much-improved method for students to provide their opinions on the level of instruction they receive at Mount Royal University. The new instrument focuses more on items that students are qualified to respond to and items that align with the Mount Royal University Institutional Criteria for Tenure and Promotion 

The SPoT instrument itself is broken into four sections: Section A is summative with the results going to the faculty member, the Chair, and the Dean; Section B asks information about the course itself, however, in recognizing that Instructors of multi-section courses do not always make the decision regarding text books, and assignments, this section is strictly formative in that the results are provided only to the faculty member. Section C is also strictly formative and allows Instructors to choose five questions they would like to ask from a question bank found on the myMRU website (Faculty tab – Student Evaluation of Instruction – SpoT Question Bank). The final Section D provides some basic demographic information on the student including whether the course being evaluated is a core course, a GNED requirement, or an elective; the student’s attendance in the course, expected grade, and how many courses they have taken previously. A copy of the SPoT Instrument can be found at (insert link).

For Contract faculty, SPoTs are implemented as follow:

  • Initial Sessional Employees: one (1) for each course taught in the first semester;
  • Reappointed Sessional Employees: at least one (1) per semester and any course taught for the first time.

How and when do I have the SPoTs completed?

Mount Royal University currently uses an on-line system (the Blue System) for students to complete the SPoT. OIAP suggests that faculty provide students with an opportunity to complete the SPoT instrument, however, it is not required. If you do decide to have the SPoTs completed in the classroom, at present there is no invigilation available. That being said, you are welcome to ask another faculty member to come in and invigilate the administration of SPoT. Whether you decide to administer them in the classroom yourself or have another faculty member do it, there are written instructions and an instructional video available to set up the administration of the SPoT on the myMRU website. You can find both of these by clicking on the faculty tab and then going to the Student Evaluation of Instruction section.

Article 28.4.2 gives faculty some flexibility as to when their SPoTs will be done and how long they will be left up for students to complete. It states, “Employees in consultation with the Chair and the Office of Institutional Analysis and Planning (OIAP) will choose the timing of the student evaluation of instruction with a view to afford students in a course scheduled for evaluation with a reasonable opportunity to respond within pre-set windows of opportunity.” The Blue System administered by OIAP allows faculty to choose dates and times within the final 20 business days of the semester to have students complete the SPoT. The specific dates and times are decided at your discretion. You can set these dates and times by following the link provided by OIAP each semester. This is also the time that you would choose your optional additional questions to include in the instrument itself.

How do I find out the results of my SPoTs?

After the final grades are submitted, you will receive an e-mail from OIAP advising you that your SPoT results have been released. A link will be provided to you, but you may also go to the myMRU website, Faculty Tab, Student Evaluation of Instruction, Blue Dashboard to find your results.

How are my SPoT scores interpreted?

It is important to remember that no single evaluation should be used to determine reappointment. The Mount Royal University Institutional Tenure and Promotion Criteria (page 6) clearly states “Evaluation of teaching should be holistic and not rely solely on student evaluations of instruction. This also applies to Contract faculty members. Evaluation documents should be read for trends, patterns, and comments both positive and negative.” All methods of evaluation are to be considered from both a summative and formative perspective.

The OIAP completes an initial scanning of SPoTs for discriminatory comments. That being said, students sometimes will make comments that are inappropriate. If these comments are particularly vexatious, Article 28.4.4 of the Collective Agreement allows you to make a request through the Chair to request these comments be deleted. All such requests must be approved by the Dean. In most cases, when you receive comments that you feel are unfair, you might choose to complete Form 508 (located on the P drive under “Forms”). Article 28.4.3 provides you with a window of ten (10) days after receiving the results to complete this form and provide written responses to the student evaluation of instructions. You might find that leaving those negative comments in the dossier, but qualifying them with context on Form 508, provides a better explanation of the scores than having them removed.

Peer and Chair Evaluations

The Peer and Chair Evaluations serve both a summative and formative purpose. Although having someone sit in your classroom and observe your teaching may seem daunting, it is important to remember that you have flexibility as to when you choose to have the evaluations completed and, therefore, which class you will have evaluated. Each evaluation is comprised of three parts: the pre-observation meeting, the peer observation, and the post-observation meeting.

The pre-observation meeting usually takes place at a mutually agreed to date within a week or two of the observation and is intended to provide you the opportunity to discuss the upcoming peer observation. You might discuss the learning objectives, your objectives for the observation, any contextual information that might affect the peer observation. An example of a contextual factor might be that you are teaching the course for the first time. Finally, as the peer observation is also intended to be formative, this pre-observation meeting also provides you the opportunity to request feedback on any area that you might think is helpful. You will also be asked to provide the evaluator access to your Blackboard site as well as any materials you plan to use in the observed class.

The Peer observation itself will take place during a class that you choose (based upon the evaluator’s schedule). Although you are not required to anything special for the peer observation class, you may want to consider the criteria that the evaluator will be assessing (listed on forms 101 and 102) in planning your class. The Tenure and Promotion Handbook outlines how the classroom observation should be conducted. These guidelines also apply to Contract faculty. Some key points are:

  • The evaluator arrives early and takes an unobtrusive seat;
  • You may inform the students that the evaluator is present at the beginning of class
  • The evaluator stays for the entire class, or if it is a long class (i.e. 3-hours), leaves during the break;
  • The evaluator does not discuss the course with the students (i.e., they should not solicit input from students on how they feel the course is going)

The post-observation meeting occurs after you receive the draft of your evaluation and is arranged by the evaluator. You must receive the draft at least three days prior to the post observation meeting. At this meeting, the peer evaluator can review with you the feedback they have given in the draft and will provide you with the opportunity to ask questions. Only factors that are related to teaching effectiveness should be included in the evaluation. The Mount Royal University Tenure and Promotion Handbook outlines the following topics that should be included in the post-observation meeting:

  • Inferences that are drawn by the evaluator regarding the observations made during the class, with an objective focus on behaviours
  • Additional areas of observational feedback as determined in the pre-observation meeting;
  • Opportunities for improvement; and
  • Feedback on course design and resources

If you receive feedback on the draft evaluation that you do not agree with, the post-observation meeting provides you with an opportunity to discuss it

What Peer and Chair Evaluations are required?

Article 28.5 of the Collective Agreement outlines the requirements for peer and chair evaluations. For Peer Evaluations, you will require evaluations to be completed by the Chair of the department in which you are teaching. The Chair may also designate another person to do the evaluation (Article 28.5.6 of the Collective Agreement). How often you require an evaluation to be completed by the Chair depends on whether you are an initial or continuing sessional employee.

 For Contract faculty members, Peer Evaluations are implemented as follow:

  • Initial Sessional Employees: one (1) during the first semester of appointment, conducted by the Chair;
  • Reappointed Sessional Employees: at least one (1) every thirty-six (36) months, conducted the Chair.

What will I be evaluated on?

The criteria for competent teaching are that the faculty member:

  • demonstrates satisfactory knowledge of the relevant subject area(s);
  • organizes and presents course content clearly;
  • communicates high expectations;
  • fosters interaction between students and faculty;
  • encourages active learning;
  • develops collaboration and cooperation among students;
  • emphasizes time on task;
  • gives prompt and meaningful feedback;
  • respects diverse talents and ways of learning; and
  • performs course-related administrative tasks efficiently.

What do I do after I receive my evaluation?

 At present time, there is no article of the Collective Agreement regarding a set time within which your evaluator must complete the written peer evaluation, however, the Mount Royal University Tenure and Promotion Handbook suggests it should be completed within two weeks of the observation. After you receive the draft of the evaluation, it is the responsibility of the evaluator to arrange a post-observation meeting with you. If you have any questions, require clarification, or do not agree with anything in the draft, you should raise this at the post-observation meeting.

Within a week following the post-observation meeting, the evaluator will finalize the evaluation and complete the Evaluator summary of discussion at the meeting section in Part III of the Peer Evaluation Form. The evaluator will then forward the final evaluation to you to complete the Instructor reflections on the evaluation section.

Within ten (10) days you are allowed to submit additional material to help contextualize the evaluation. According to Article 28.5.5 of the Collective Agreement, this material may include:

  • a statement of teaching philosophy;
  • instructional material, including syllabus and course materials;
  • description of teaching contributions that are not evaluated by student evaluations of instruction;
  • contributions in pedagogical development and innovation;
  • written responses to student evaluations of instruction;
  • scholarship related to teaching;