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SAIS Frequently Asked Questions

There are eleven variations of the SAIS form for use in a variety of courses. There are forms designed to assess courses that teach heuristic methods, skill oriented courses, labs, clinical experience and distance learning. Click here for a description of each form.

Please contact Elizabeth Pemberton at or by phone at 865-974-4373 for assistance in determining which form is best suited for your course.

There is an opportunity for colleges, departments and/or instructors to ask specific questions at the end of the online form. Departmental Items and Individual Class Items can be used to ask more specific questions. Questions must be provided by the college, department or instructor as this section acts as an answer sheet. SAIS will provide a report that shows a percentage breakdown and a mean score for items in these sections.

In 1995 the Faculty Senate introduced a program based on the evaluation system used at the University of Washington. The current system was put in to place by the Faculty Senate in 2000. UW has been studying and refining their Instruction of Assessment System for decades, testing the validity and reliability of questions and has been adopted by over 50 post-secondary institutions. UW is home to some of the leading researchers in teaching assessment and those researchers have found new ways of using data for more meaningful evaluation of instruction.

The Teaching Council recommended in 1995 that in order to preserve anonymity for students a report would not be generated for courses where fewer than five students have filled out evaluations. SAIS will provide raw data from courses with fewer than five respondents for their own personal review, but unofficial data should not be included in tenure/promotion or review documentation.

Evaluation forms ask specifically about the instructor’s (singular) ability. Each instructor must be evaluated independently.

Teaching evaluations are subject to the “Tennessee Open Records Law,” which says that records of state agencies are open to inspection by any citizen of the state. According to the UT General Counsel’s Office an instructor does not have to be informed prior to someone viewing a report. (Teaching evaluations are different than personnel records.) Also, departments may not hold up the request to view evaluations though they do have the right to charge individuals for copies and are allowed to make those copies within a reasonable time period.

SAIS is responsible for administering the teaching evaluation program on campus. Tennessee 101 is a service of the Student Government Association to aid students in choosing courses and instructors. Tennessee 101 uses eleven of the 33 items on SAIS forms for their evaluations. A report from Tennessee 101 is not the same as the official SAIS report.

The online evaluation site opens to students for a set period of time each semester (see Calendar for specific dates). Students receive up to five reminder e-mails from campus administration during that period of time. Instructors are welcome to send additional e-mails to students with the link to the evaluation site. They may also set aside time in class for students to complete the evaluations online via computer labs, laptops, netbooks, tablets with internet access and/or smart phones.

The overall response rate is at 40% with about 10% of participating instructors obtaining response rates of 80% or above. We’ve found that instructor involvement in encouraging students to participate along with increased contact from SAIS to non-respondents have been instrumental in the improved response rates.

The SAIS coordinator will make every effort to address and resolve issues instructors have with SAIS. If, however, the issue is not resolved to the instructor’s satisfaction, an appeal may be made to the Faculty Senate’s Teaching Council which has oversight of the SAIS program.