What’s The Point Of Teacher Evaluations?

 

Twice a year, most schools ask students to fill out a teacher evaluation form. These standardized forms  give students the opportunity to rate their teachers on topics such as clarity, organization, level of difficulty and responsiveness.

 

Whenever I mention that the forms are available, my request is met with a bunch of eye rolls. It’s like a bag of marbles fell out of someone’s backpack and I’m stuck trying to justify the significance of teacher evaluations while tripping over a green agate.  I’m sure from a student’s perspective, you start to wonder where all that survey information ends up. Does anyone even look at the results? Do the results matter? What happens if I say something mean about a teacher? Will they know it’s me?

 

Let me tackle the topic of anonymity first. If you just fill in the bubbles, then I won’t know it’s you. However, if you choose to write something in the comment box like, “She hated my paper on the cultural impact of rap music,” then I can probably guess it was you. What can I say, I’m just not a rap fan. Luckily, teachers don’t see the results of their evaluations until the next semester so your grade is safe, but your paper is still lame.

 

The surveys really matter when the teacher you are evaluating is not a full time faculty member or possibly an un-tenured faculty member. In this case, a teacher’s job could be on the line and any input you can provide is helpful, as long as it’s honest. So what about those tenured professors.  If you’ve never heard of tenure, think of it as a life sentence with no chance of parole. Tenured professors become Teflon professors during the teacher evaluation process. There’s nothing you can say in those surveys that will threaten their position.

 

On the flip-side, I’m a tenured professor and I do read and consider students’ comments. Early in my teaching career, a student said I favored male students. It was an important comment and I worked hard to fix that perception, especially since I thought I had favored the females!  Another student said I wasn’t open to interpretations other than my own.  Wow! That’s totally me. I’m a ‘my way, or the highway’ kind of teacher. I’ve since attempted to correct for this, but only in a way that gives me complete control of the conversation.

 

The one thing I refuse to do is give students extra credit for filling out a teacher evaluation survey.  This is a common practice, but it feels like I’d be paying you to say something nice about me. Hmmm, maybe I should reconsider this last point. While I’m thinking about it, maybe you can take a look at the photo I chose of a teacher favoring a male student. This might be the worst stock photo I’ve ever purchased. Why is the teacher’s ponytail on his shoulder? Why does she even have a ponytail? And don’t get me started on that creepy baby hand reaching for the guy’s back.

Interpretations about the photo are welcome, because as you know – I’m open-minded. And by the way, please fill out your teacher evaluation forms!

 

 

 

 

  • Priscila Rosa

    That is kind of what I thought, but let’s say the truth, the best part of all this was “…So your grade is safe, but your paper is still lame.” #ouch

  • Nancy Dashefsky

    Nancy Dashefsky

  • Nancy Dashefsky

    I think teacher evaluations are an important part of the college experience. It gives students a chance to voice their concerns or praise the professor’s teaching ability. As a professor I have valued their opinions and viewed the process as a learning experience. I would never give my students extra credit for completing an evaluation because I do believe it can be perceived as infuencing their response. I encourage them to be honest and assure them that their evaluation is anonymous.

  • Victor Alvarez

    I always wondered what significance a teacher evaluation held. I can see the importance of having tenure in a profession like teaching. Being able to challenge a student with difficult work without fear of being fired by the school due to pressure from students who could not make the cut, is very important. I also see the importance of leaving proper comments on teacher evaluation sheets as a way to help improve the class for future students. I’ve been trough many classes and have experienced many different types of professors. Some good experiences and some bad, but i always wondered if my input on the teacher evaluation ever made a difference in future classes the professor taught.

  • Gabriela Meneses

    I believe that teacher evaluation is really important for students and teachers. I always try to do these evaluations at the end of each semester. I think the opinion of the students can help to improve the way of how they teach. Also, I think teachers have to be open to any critics because they always going to find people who love or hate them. However, I don’t like how some students use these surveys in order to say bad things about their teachers and sometimes these are lies. On the other hand, some professors give an extra credit for doing a survey, but I wonder if they are doing these to try to improve their teaching or these incentive is only to get a good opinions.

  • Taylor Dawson

    Teacher evaluations can also be reviewed as self reflectance. It’s a time to consider if you’re just bitter towards your professor because perhaps, maybe it was you who had been lacking perseverance and motivation. From my personal experience, you deal with more good professors than bad. Usually, class is what you make out of it. You could have the greatest professor in your college, but if you’re desire to learn isn’t there, you probably won’t reflect positively on that professor or class in general. I do make an effort to review my professors each semester. The same way I look for constructive criticism from my professors, I try to give them the same courtesy. The best way to reach your full potential is to embrace that there is always room for improvement. In conclusion, whether your overall evaluation was positive or negative, it is important to let them know. Like I had said, you typically get handed more great professors than those who may not be so great. So why not take a few minutes to thank them for their awesomeness?

  • Angelo Catalfamo

    I think teacher evaluations should be looked at more by people higher up. I have taken classes where I hated the class because the professor and I haven’t learned anything. I think schools should read our evaluations and get rid of the bad teachers. I am not saying a strict professor who gives a lot of work and is hard is a bad teacher. The strict professors are sometimes the ones who care about there students the most because they want to see us gain the knowledge. I am talking about professors who are uninteresting and terrible at teaching. I’ve had a professor who just sat there and had us copy notes for 3 hours and for home work would just assign us readings. She would talk about her self and her accomplishments and tell us how what we are doing is wrong and we wont find jobs this way. When filling out the course evaluation it seems like it doesn’t matter because the teachers are still here. However, all there comments on websites such as rate my professor are still the same. I believe these course evaluations should be taken seriously and looked at seriously because we are the ones who are taking the courses and we should get something out of these course we are paying for.