Course evaluations.

There is more than enough discussion about the usefulness (or not) of student evaluations of courses. I will refer you to Larry Moran‘s recent discussion where you can find one perspective as well as links to other articles. More recently, there is an interesting piece in University Affairs by Brett Zimmerman of York University.

Course evaluations – students’ revenge?

To some extent, the issue appears to be that anonymous evaluations are not particularly helpful. I don’t know how it is done at most universities, but at Guelph evaluations are now done online on a volunteer basis (so the problem becomes getting them to participate) and only comments that are signed count in T&P reviews. I personally find the comments useful, if in no other way than to provide confidence that some of the new approaches I try to implement are successful.

I don’t think we want to abolish student feedback, and I think this should be part of T&P reviews, especially in disciplines like science where there can be a tendency to consider oneself a researcher first and an educator a distant second. However, unsigned comments, especially when they allow students to make insulting statements without consequences, are not useful and should be updated.



6 comments to Course evaluations.

  • RBH

    Back when I was professing (professoring?), the comments were the only useful (to me) part of the student evals. What I found interesting was that the comments were fairly consistent across classes from intro to advanced, while the rating scale scores varied, with advanced classes getting better scores than intro. That I taught intro at 8:00 a.m. for the whole 20 years I was a professor may have had something to do with that. :)

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  • Anonymous

    One of your former student’s here professor, Do you know what percentage of your class did the evaluations in Fall 2007?

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  • The Lorax

    I have been writing on course evaluations recently and how they can work to provide feedback and how I think they generally don’t. When evaluations come in, you know your fall teaching duties are officially over.

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  • TR Gregory

    One of your former student’s here professor, Do you know what percentage of your class did the evaluations in Fall 2007?

    I could tell you but then I’d sound like a “broken record”, wouldn’t I?

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  • Anonymous

    Yeah but sometimes I miss listening to that “broken record”…

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  • Michael

    I have been taught by bad teachers and studied in poor undergraduate courses. These bad teachers were however good researchers. I would not have provided criticisms of the course or lecturer in evaluations knowing that I would be identified as the author for fear of harming an academic relationship with a future colleague.

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