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Mon Oct 6, 2014, 12:53 PM

Student Course Evaluations Get An 'F'

by ANYA KAMENETZ

At Denny's, diners are asked to fill out comment cards. How was your meal? Were you satisfied with the quality of service? Were the restrooms clean?

In universities around the world, semesters end with students filling out similar surveys about their experience in the class and the quality of the teacher.

Student ratings are high-stakes. They come up when faculty are being considered for tenure or promotions. In fact, they're often the only method a university uses to monitor the quality of teaching.

Recently, a number of faculty members have been publishing research showing that the comment-card approach may not be the best way to measure the central function of higher education.

Philip Stark is the chairman of the statistics department at the University of California, Berkeley. "I've been teaching at Berkeley since 1988, and the reliance on teaching evaluations has always bothered me," he says.

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http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/09/26/345515451/student-course-evaluations-get-an-f

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Reply Student Course Evaluations Get An 'F' (Original post)
n2doc Oct 2014 OP
Hoppy Oct 2014 #1
eppur_se_muova Oct 2014 #2
xocet Oct 2014 #3
tblue37 May 2015 #4

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Oct 6, 2014, 01:31 PM

1. Those evaluations are bullshit.

 

I linked to one. The evaluation criteria Included ease of grading and how hot the instructor is.

No wonder Republicans continue to get elected.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Oct 6, 2014, 05:49 PM

2. Not a lot of thought goes into designing those evaluation forms, either.

For them to be actually effective, the questions need to be designed to extract meaningful responses. The old "grade your instructor on a scale of 1 to 10" question is pretty useless without requiring detailed explanations.

At most of the schools where I've taught, most students don't bother to fill out the evaluations unless they're told they are required to, so it's only a minority whose opinions get heard. That puts a huge error factor on top of any results anyway.

Here's a thought: If the process of designing evaluations, and evaluating the responses, isn't done even more thoroughly and carefully than the teaching of the class, can the results possibly be very meaningful ? The effectiveness of an course is a very complex thing to evaluate, and the value of the subject matter itself -- not to mention the manner in which it is conveyed -- is often unclear to the students themselves until years down the road. If you want to get meaningful course evaluations from students, you should wait until they have taken classes for which the course being evaluated was a prerequisite. Only then will they really be in a position to see the value of the material they learned (or didn't).

But that would require too much effort, and worse, too much thought.

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #2)

Tue Oct 7, 2014, 01:19 AM

3. "If you want to get meaningful course evaluations from students,..."

"...you should wait until they have taken classes for which the course being evaluated was a prerequisite. Only then will they really be in a position to see the value of the material they learned (or didn't)."

That is a good suggestion. Does any university do it that way to your knowledge? I don't know of any that do.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sat May 16, 2015, 07:06 PM

4. Have you heard about the evaluation form that asked

the students the typical question in the comment section about whether they felt they learned from the course, and then followed that question up with, "What flaw in your own character do you think prevented you from getting what you should have from this course?"

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