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 Research and Statistical Support - University of North Texas

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Link to the last RSS article here: Creating Web Based Surveys with Zope - An Open Source Application Server - Ed.

A.M.: Faculty Evaluations After the Mainframe

By Patrick McLeod, Research and Statistical Support Services Consultant

As documented in the pages of past Benchmarks issues, the academic and administrative mainframes are now completely decommissioned. One of the many tried and true services that the mainframe produced for the UNT academic community was faculty and instructor evaluation reports.

Academic Computing Services management, Data Management staff, and Research and Statistical Support staff have collaborated on a project to replace the mainframe-based faculty and instructor evaluations with a desktop-based reporting system using SAS. The new SAS-generated faculty and instructor evaluations continue to provide all the reporting structure of the mainframe-based evaluations while integrating the computational power and flexible syntax of SAS with reports saved in Rich Text Format files that are easily imported into Microsoft Word.

Mainframe-based evaluations were produced within the infrastructure of mainframe computing at UNT: Desktop clients to log in to the mainframe, code that ran on the mainframe and printouts that were produced on the printer formerly located in the I/O Area in the ISB. Since all of this infrastructure save for the desktop login clients are now either decommissioned (the mainframe) or no longer standing (the printer), the new desktop-based solution takes advantage of SASí capability to export output to Rich Text and to Comma Separated Values files (as with RTF files and MS-Word, CSV files are easily imported into MS-Excel) to deliver the reports on a floppy disk to the requesting departments.

New Look, Same Information

The new faculty and instructor evaluations make use of SASí data step, PROC SUMMARY and PROC FREQ to analyze response data and generate output. Click here for an example of the PROC FREQ output sorted by Instructor, Course and Section.

This piece of output is generated as part of a larger Rich Text file of all the output for each departmentís evaluations. This output is easily imported into MS-Word where it can be re-sized and page breaks can be added for printing out reports to provide to each instructor. This piece of output provides the frequency of answers to questions in a cross-tabulation table sorted by Instructor, Course and Section. A second piece of output generated using PROC SUMMARY provides mean and standard deviation scores for aggregated questions (overall means and standard deviations and aggregated means and standard deviations for specific groups if output is requested in parts instead of one overall analysis); this example here, once more, is sorted by Instructor, Course and Section.

These two pieces of output offer the same information that the mainframe output offered in a slightly different format. Just like the mainframe output, this output can be generated by any number of categories: Overall (no breakdown), by instructor name, by instructor number, by instructor and course, by course only, by instructor, course and section and by instructor within course. If there is a way to logically divide your data, SAS can be prompted to analyze your data based on this divide and to generate output from it.

More information returned

In order to provide the departments and schools with more information, the faculty and instructor evaluations will be returned in electronic format on floppy disks. Each of these disks will have one raw data file (the data that the optical reader scans from the department and school Scantrons), one or more .CSV files (depending on what types of analysis are requested and how many parts they are broken down into) and one or more .RTF files of output. Departments and schools can then import the .RTF file(s) into Microsoft Word to insert comments, format the output with page breaks and to store the information locally for future reference.

We hope that this new system of faculty and instructor evaluations will continue to provide the expected level of performance that the mainframe-based evaluations provided in the past; in addition, we hope that the enhancements to this process will make usage, distribution and storage easier for all the departments and schools that Academic Computing Services serves across the entire UNT system.

 

 

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