Each semester, many students get a pleasant surprise in class: teacher evaluations. All non-tenured professors must complete student evaluations, while tenured professors are only required to do so every five years.
We are told that these evaluations are very important, since it can make or break whether a professor is promoted or considered for tenure.
Students fill out these short and simple questionnaires, rating both the class and the professor. There is also the option to answer some open-ended questions to give additional feedback.
Being a sophomore, I’ve had my share of really good and really bad professors. Some of them I don’t know how they even passed an interview, while others I wish I could take for every class. I’m sure that other students would love to know who I’m talking about, and what their peers have to say.
Now, this kind of thing already happens through word of mouth, and from the popular “Rate My Professor” website. However, most of this information is usually skewed, since students tend to only complain about the really bad ones, or (less often) praise the great ones.
What if we could see the real opinions of every student? What if that information was published? I feel that students would feel a lot more prepared and likely perform better.
Think about this: Two professors teach the same class. Professor A uses lots of handouts and grades homework. Professor B has few handouts and doesn’t grade homework. For some students there might not be a difference, but for me, I know that if I have a professor who will grade my homework, I will most certainly do it. Where as if I know it’s not graded, I might slack off.
Now, I know one of the reasons that the administration probably does not want to release these results is for fear that students would all try to take the “popular” professor for a class, somehow causing problems. Or maybe it’s because they don’t want to somehow hurt professors’ feelings. Or maybe it’s in the professors’ contracts? (I couldn’t see anything in the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement that professors are part of.)
Whatever the reason, I feel that students should be able to hear what others are saying. Student evaluations should be published and available to students, for better or worse.