Bok Center Not Inolved in TF Hotline

To the editors:

It came as a surprise to learn from the the front-page story “E-Hotline Opened for TF Concerns” (news, Feb. 14) and the accompanying op-ed “Better Teaching, an E-Mail Away” (Feb. 14) that the Bok Center is “partnering” with the Undergraduate Council (UC) to monitor Teaching Fellow performance. We have not, in fact, signed on to the “E-Hotline” in question.

It is true that the Bok Center has long supported feedback on teaching and communication among students, their TFs, and faculty to improve the quality of learning in FAS. For several years we have posted a variety of forms and templates for “early evaluations,” written and electronic, on our web site. These are used at the discretion of course heads and TFs to elicit student input about the progress of the course and the way it is taught. In addition, we have long been involved in helping faculty and TFs interpret CUE data from their courses, and in assisting in facilitating tactful, creative means for students to be heard on these matters. These “tactful means” include a general understanding that student concerns be expressed first to the professor or course head (with the anonymity that we provide), rather than to the TF, and that they be presented by students actually enrolled in the course, who can speak from their own experience.

Any potential collaboration between the Bok Center and the UC hotline (which the op-ed suggests is imminent) would have to be contingent on broader discussion and approval within the College. Even with such approval, it should be understood that what the Bok Center can offer best is the facilitation for “early evaluations” described above and information on best pedagogical practices. While we will follow the progress of the hotline with interest, the Bok Center is neither a sponsor of the project nor its partner at the present time.


February 14, 2007

Cambridge, Mass.

The writer is director of the Derek Bok Center of Teaching.