For more than 30 years, institutions have used the SIR II™ survey to:
- assess course and instructional outcomes
- pinpoint teaching strengths and improvement opportunities across disciplines, courses and classes
- inform administrative decisions
- reward teaching excellence
- compare results to peer institutions nationwide
- measure instructor effectiveness for accreditation purposes
Researched Uses of SIR II and e-SIR Survey Data
The following examples show how institutions can use SIR II and e-SIR survey data to inform decisions on teaching, course curricula and learning outcomes:
Question No. 40 on the survey asks students to rate the overall quality of instruction in the course. Validity studies have shown that students' overall evaluation of instruction tends to correlate higher with student course grades than do other items. So decision makers may want to focus initially on response data for question No. 40.
The other survey questions and scales are useful for diagnosing instructional or course strengths and weaknesses. These data can help to identify improvement opportunities. However, the items should not be summed to provide a total score.
Multiple Sets of Evaluations
A pattern of evaluations over time and across courses provides the best picture of instructor effectiveness as seen by students. Evaluations from only one course or from one term may not fairly represent an instructor's effectiveness, although this type of data can be useful in identifying instructional improvement opportunities.
For personnel decisions, it is essential to examine trends or patterns over time and to consider other characteristics, such as gender bias, that might influence the evaluations. Some research has shown that four or five sets of evaluations are needed for a valid conclusion about instructor effectiveness.
Informing Administrative Decisions
SIR II and e-SIR survey data can be used as part of the overall performance evaluations. However, instructors should be given the opportunity to describe their instructional objectives in a course and how their methods fit those objectives. They should also be given the opportunity to discuss circumstances they feel may have affected the evaluations. What may seem like poor ratings may be due, for example, to the instructor's attempt at a new or different approach to a course.
Multiple Sources of Information
While the results may be used in a variety of ways, SIR II and e-SIR evaluations represent only one source of data about instructional effectiveness. It's critical to consider multiple sources of information to provide a holistic evaluation of instructional effectiveness. Other sources include: self-evaluations, feedback from colleagues, administrator evaluations and assessments of student learning.
Diagnostic Information for Teaching Improvement
SIR II and e-SIR survey results help to diagnose instructors' strengths and weaknesses. Although ETS studies have shown that some instructors can improve after receiving results, other instructors may not know how to change. It is appropriate to use the survey results in instructional counseling and to direct instructors to resources for instructional improvement. Some institutions have developed workshops using the SIR II compendium.
Optional Items and Written Comments
Use of optional survey questions and open-ended comments written by students can provide valuable additional information to instructors. Students completing the online versions are able to preserve their anonymity by typing (vs. hand writing) their comments. This promotes more honest, candid feedback. Faculty members and others who view the written comments should keep in mind that satisfying all students' complaints or wishes may not be possible or even desirable.
Guidelines for the Use of SIR II Survey Results
These guidelines provide information to faculty and administrators who use SIR II results for instructional improvement, tenure, making administrative decisions and awarding excellence.