We would like to thank everyone who participated in our recent survey of the experience of the Student Opinion of Teaching Survey (SOTS) in the Spring/Summer/Fall 2020 semesters. We hope you will join us for the UPEI Faculty Association Annual General Meeting (AGM) on April 23rd to learn more about the results of this survey.
The survey responses indicate that many of you are concerned about the way SOTS were conducted online during a global pandemic, against the background of a significant increase to our workload, and with reduced resources for meeting these increased demands. A number of our members also identified a range of technical issues that call into question the meaningfulness and legitimacy of SOTS under these challenging conditions.
Your survey results played an important role in recent engagements with UPEI Administration where we stressed the importance – in the context of the pandemic – of remaining flexible with respect to the use of SOTS for hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions. In addition, we pointed to examples across the country where university administrations have responded to the concerns of teaching staff by implementing temporary measures to address these unique circumstances. Unfortunately, UPEI Administration has shown little interest in working with the Faculty Association to find a reasonable way to mitigate the impact of these issues on FA members who may be going through a hiring process or submitting SOTS as part of their tenure/promotion files.
As a result, the UPEI Faculty Association was left with no alternative but to file a formal grievance in this matter. Despite proposing a number of remedies to address this situation, UPEI Administration continued to decline to work with us to address this matter. Today, we have found it necessary to submit this case to arbitration in order to resolve these important issues. As always, we remain open to any reasonable proposal from UPEI Administration for addressing this important issue.
Pursuant to the UPEI/UPEIFA Collective Agreement (E1.3), we anticipate that FA members will soon find a link to their SOTS appearing on their Moodle course websites. Since the UPEIFA has not been consulted on the best practices for ensuring that the online administration of SOTS is conducted according to the parameters outlined in the Collective Agreement, we are writing directly to you, our members, with advice on improving this process to the extent that this is possible. The following steps will ensure that our members are well positioned to decide when SOTS will be administered:
- When the SOTS link appears on Moodle, if it is visible to students please be sure to use the hide feature to make sure it is not visible to students until you are ready to administer SOTS. If you are not familiar with this feature, please contact UPEI ITSS (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
- If it has been necessary for you to hide the link, please contact UPEI ITSS to ensure that no students were able to complete the survey prior to making it invisible to students.
- Once you have decided when you would like to administer SOTS, please be sure to let your students know one class in advance of when you intend to administer SOTS, or make them available to students.
- Be sure to set aside at least 20 minutes to enable students to complete the survey. You can make the survey available for as much or as little time beyond this as you wish.
- To administer the SOTS, you will need to make the SOTS link visible. Once students have completed the survey, please make sure you hide the link to prevent students from taking it at another time.
- The survey should not be available for students to take after the end of classes on April 9.
Finally, we encourage our members to get in touch (email@example.com) if they encounter anything that deviates from the procedures (E1.3) outlined in the Collective Agreement (https://www.upeifa.ca/working-at-upei/collective-agreements/), or the process and timelines outlined above.