The Office of Institutional Research has established a program where students can receive money on their printer balance for participating in the Student Opinion of Faculty Instruction, a change from previous years. According to Director of Institutional Research Julie Rao, SOFIs are currently accessible on KnightWeb under “Surveys” and will be there until Tuesday Dec. 15. Rao spoke about the three purposes for the SOFI program from the perspective of the college.
“The first one is for students to use them to select courses based on feedback from other students,” she said. “They are also used by professors to improve their teaching and to get feedback from their students. The third instance they are used for is that faculty submit their numerical reports as well as the comments in their tenure and promotion portfolios.”
The department has indicated an issue with student participation in years past, leading to the new incentives. According to Rao, the fall semester in 2013 had a student participation rate of 29 percent.
Assistant professor of political science Eunju Kang voiced some discontent with the SOFIs in that respect.
“The program is failing because we do not get the good feedback from the students because students do not fill out the form,” she said. “Only students who felt very negatively about the programs responded. When the response rate is low, very low, then the entire population of the respondents might be that specific group of students.”
To Kang, the SOFIs are a crucial component of life at Geneseo. “It’s not just about professors retaining their jobs; it’s about students as well and the college,” she said. “Having good professors at Geneseo—from that, everyone at Geneseo would benefit.”
According to Rao, the issues with participation began after the SOFIs moved on to KnightWeb. “In 2006, we went from an in-class administration to an online administration and for the first few years, the response rates were really good,” she said. “We went to KnightWeb though and saw that the response rates had gone down and they’ve been down.”
In response to the low participation rates, the OIR has instituted a new program for incentives. For every SOFI submitted, the respective student will receive one dollar in printer credit. The limit is five dollars of printer credit, or five class evaluations submitted.
Rao credited the origin of the idea to former Director of New Student Programs Kim Harvey. “Kim Harvey had told me she was trying to get students to come up and use the lounge and was offering the ability to print to her printer,” Rao said. “I thought, ‘Well, students are interested in printing, is this something that we could use to encourage students to complete the SOFIs?’”
Kang still voiced some qualms about the new incentives that the college is providing. “In this policy, the target population is SUNY Geneseo students,” she said. “How many students at Geneseo really use the printer credit weekly or daily or monthly? This policy doesn’t apply to all of the Geneseo students, so it can’t be expected to work as well.”
Still, Kang acknowledged that the jury is still out regarding the program. “I’m not sure about the effectiveness of this program,” she said. “We will see because it’s the first time.”