Faculty Information

PICA (Personalized Instructor/Course Appraisal) is a flexible, easy to use online system by which faculty can customize evaluations to get the information they need for improving their course and to provide the University information for program and tenure decisions. To find out more about PICA, contact pica@tamu.edu.
How to set up and customize your evaluations
  • Instructions for Faculty
  • To see a sample online evaluation form, go to the PICA website (pica.tamu.edu) and enter the Guest Login. The id and password are both "guest" (without the quote marks)
  • The item bank can be found under the Instructor menu at pica.tamu.edu.
How to read the information provided by the evaluations
How to engage students through the evaluation process
  • Talk to students about evaluations. (word) (PDF)

What courses are appraised?

All courses are appraised in each term, including mini-mesters, except independent study and research (285, 484, 485, 491, 684, 685, 691) and internships.

Can I have my independent and research courses appraised?

Yes, you may select those courses for appraisal by going to http://pica.tamu.edu. See below: "How do I set up my courses for appraisal?"

When are courses appraised?

There are two appraisal periods during the Fall and Spring semesters.
  • Early feedback (optional) is administered during the fifth week of the term. It opens at 8:00 a.m. on the Saturday before the fifth week and closes at 11:00 p.m. on the Sunday after the sixth week.
  • The End-of-Term appraisal period opens after Q-Drop, at 8:00 a.m. the next day and closes at 11:00 p.m. the last day of class, prior to Finals starting.
For Summer sessions, there are two appraisal periods during the ten-week session and one in each of the five-week sessions.
  • The End-of-Term appraisals for each Summer session begin at 8:00 a.m. ten days before the last class day of that session and end at 11:00 p.m. of the last class day.
  • The Early feedback for the ten-week session coincides with the first summer session End-of-Term appraisal period.
Custom appraisal periods for mini-mester courses, modular courses, and study abroad courses can be set up by sending an email to pica@tamu.edu.
To view the specific dates for the current term, go to http://pica.tamu.edu. The dates will appear in a sidebar on the right side of the screen.


How do I set up my courses for appraisal?

Go to http:/pica.tamu.edu and enter the "Instructor Login." Click the "Begin" button in the "Pre-appraisal Period" window. Another window will open containing a list of all of your courses available for appraisal. Highlight the courses you want appraised and click "Add." You will see the courses move from "available" to "selected." You will receive confirmation of your selection by email.

When is the deadline to select my courses?

The deadline to select your courses for appraisal is 5:00 p.m. two days before the appraisal period opens. The deadline appears on the right sidebar of the current term menu in PICA.

What happens if I miss the deadline? Can my course still be appraised?

Yes, OIEE can select the course for you. Send an e-mail to pica@tamu.edu with the subject, course and section number(s) to be appraised. We understand that it is easy to forget deadlines. If your department uses PICA for all appraisals, OIEE staff will automatically select courses for instructors who have missed the deadline. If you wait to select your courses until right before the deadline, you might find that they have already been selected. For departments in which PICA is optional, instructors will need to select the courses themselves.

How many questions are on the appraisal form?

The appraisal form contains two background questions: "Expected grade in the course," and "Is this course required?" It contains any number of Likert scale items up to a maximum of 20. Each Likert scale item has a box for comments. There is one essay question, but instructors have an option of adding up to five essay questions.

Who chooses the questions?

PICA is Cafeteria Model of course appraisal. The questions are stored in an item bank from which various stakeholders can select the ones that are most appropriate for the course. The primary stakeholders are the college administration, the department administration, and the instructor. The questions chosen by the college administration and/or the department administration are the default questions. If the default set contains fewer than 20 questions, the instructor may add questions up to 20. There is no single set of questions for the university.

How do I add questions to the appraisal form?

After you have selected your course(s), a window will open with instructions on how to view the default items and how to select additional items for the appraisal form.

What is the deadline for adding items to the form?

The deadline for adding items is the same deadline for selecting courses is 5:00 p.m. two days before the appraisal period opens.

I teach a multi-section course. Can I have all of the sections combined for one appraisal?

Yes. Please work with your department liaison who wll send an e-mail to pica@tamu.edu with the course and section information. This request must be submitted prior to the start of the appraisal period.  Once the appraisal period opens, sections cannot be combined. 

How do I set up appraisals for my TAs?

Work with your department liaison who can send an e-mail to pica@tamu.edu with the names and UINs for your TAs with the sections they teach. This request must be submitted preferably early in the semester prior to the start of the appraisal period.  Once the appraisal period opens, TA's cannot be added.    

I am co-teaching a course. Can both (all) of us be appraised?

Yes, send an e-mail to pica@tamu.edu with the names and UINs of all instructors along with department/course and section number.  This request must be submitted prior to the start of the appraisal period.  Once the appraisal period opens, co-instructors cannot be added.   

When are results available?

End-of-term results are made available at 6:00 p.m. of the day that final grades are due in the Registrar's office. Early feedback results are available at 6:00 p.m. of the day following the close of the early feedback period.

How do I view my results?

Go to http://pica.tamu.edu and enter the "Instructor Login." Click on the "Begin" button in the "Post-appraisal" window. You will see a menu of your courses links to the types of reports that are available to you. To view results from previous terms, click the "Previous Terms" tab for a menu of your courses. Report types include 1) the statistical summary for each course with links to the qualitative responses, 2) a comparative summary of your course with other sections of the course, other courses of the same level, and other courses of the same subject, 3) a longitudinal summary giving the results for the current term and all previous terms in which you taught the course.

Can I monitor the response rate during the evaluation period?

Yes. During the appraisal period, you can view your response rate in PICA by clicking on the "Begin" button in the "During Appraisal Period" window. If your response is disappointing, please remind students to do the appraisal.

Can students do the appraisal on their phones?

Yes, PICA is mobile adapted. When students login, PICA recognizes the OS and adjusts the screen appropriately. Students can do the appraisals on laptops, tablets or smartphones. In fact, more appraisals are submitted each term on smartphones than on desktop computers.

Can students do an appraisal for a course they are not enrolled in?

No. When students login, PICA checks the class rosters and presents them with appraisals for only the courses in which they are enrolled.

If a student has dropped the course can they still do the appraisal?

If the student is enrolled in the course on the day the appraisal period opens, they can do the appraisal. If they have dropped the course before the appraisal period opens, they cannot do the appraisal.

How many appraisals can a student submit for a course?

A student can submit only one appraisal for a course. However, the student may revise the appraisal at any time before the end of the appraisal period.

Why do you use the term "appraisals" instead of the more common "evaluations?"

The term, "evaluations," can have strong connotations for faculty. I have often heard from faculty, "Students can't evaluate me." In that, they are correct. In the strictest sense, the job of evaluation belongs to a) the university, college, and department administration, or b) the instructors themselves. The evaluation is a judgment on the quality and effectiveness of the instruction made by someone in a positon to make that judgment. Students do not evaluate. What they do is provide data, which the administration or instructors use, along with other data, to make a judgment. This distinction is important. The data provided by the students are not and should not be the only data used to make the judgment. By not using the term "evaluations" to describe what the students do, I hope to put the data in its proper relation to judgment and decision-making.