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Evaluations benefit students, professors

By Alice Arutoff
On December 3, 2008

Course-related questions:
"The course objectives were clearly stated."
"I gained a good understanding of concepts and principles."
Instructor-related questions:
"Kept class discussions on the topic."
"Used technology, handouts, visual aids effectively."At the end of every semester - dead week, to be exact - course evaluations are available online for students to give feedback to their professors.
But what effect do the evaluations really have?
Most students may think that they are a waste of time and quickly click the decline-to-answer option, but many professors value the feedback.
This option allows students to inform professors about what works and what doesn't and to give insight into the process. While you may not reap the benefits, other students could.
Some professors go so far as to alter their syllabi to accommodate criticisms of their courses. Moreover, though, especially for a younger professor looking to achieve tenure, the evaluations can play a role in that decision.
Not all professors share in this mutually beneficial relationship between professor and student.
Some can be set in their ways and not open to criticism, blaming students for any failures within a class.
I have even had one professor declare in front of the class that it didn't matter what we wrote about the class or his teaching style because he had tenure.
But why dead week?
A true course evaluation would occur after the finals at the end of our 15-week semester. Yet, as we know, that is not an option for us.
Is it because officials fear that if a student does not do as well as expected on a final, the student will respond negatively about the class based on that last impression?
A true evaluation should encompass all 15 weeks of the semester.
My suggestion is to continue with the evaluations during dead week, because I do think that allows more of a focus on the class itself. But an additional evaluation should be sent out after finals.
This would allow for a more thorough evaluation, helpful to both professors and students.
So take the time to comment on your current classes. Even if you won't be re-taking the class (hopefully), you may have the professor again and achieve "Great Things" that benefit your educational pursuits.

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