“Will this question be on the course evaluation?”

One of the more interesting aspects of my job as a professor is the student survey and course evaluation process. A couple colleagues told me when I got here that thanks to a really ridiculous ruling out here that evals are to be treated as public documents. Thus, the U put the clamps down on what can and can’t be asked.

The most problematic change was the decision to remove the “open comment” portion of the evaluation. As far as I was concerned, the most useful part of the evaluations has been cut and instead, I’m staring at random data points.

Still, one boss I had tried to put a happy face on the evaluation process.

“It’s their chance to give you a grade,” he said with hopeful optimism brimming in his voice. “Isn’t that refreshing?”

Not really, but if the grader becomes the gradee, I think it’s also fair to give them the full experience of being the one giving the grades. To wit:

– I plan to show up 10 minutes late for the evaluations, wearing my earbuds and a “disaffected professor” look on my face. I will then ignore their stares and just start talking.

– I want to tell them that I had planned to get the evaluations ready on time, but my best friend was having kind of a crisis, so I was over there all night and then we had some wine and then I totally forgot to set my alarm, so I didn’t have time to get the pencils so they could do the evals. That’s not a huge problem, right?

– Before I hand out the evaluations, I should tell the students, “You know, I’ve never received anything less than a five out of five on an evaluation before. Just so you know.”

– “Hi… I know it’s the last day and I’ve had some issues throughout the semester, but, if I were to, like, do really well at handing out the final evaluations, I mean like really REALLY well, is there any chance I could still do well in here?”

– As I open the door to leave, I want to stop quickly and ask, “Do you know when you’ll be done, you know, with the grading of me? Like when I can I expect to get this back?”

– During the evaluations, I will be ignoring my students’ requests for pencils or guidance and instead play on Facebook, which I’m sure they don’t even notice me doing because I’m doing it on the down low.

– When I get the evals back, I need to go to “ratemystudents.com” and anonymously post that you should NEVER have Billy Jones or Samantha Smith as students because they totally don’t understand how to grade a professor.

– I plan to tell all of my students that I once taught a group of first graders how a newspaper works and they really liked it and clapped a lot for me, so obviously the people who gave me poor evaluations in here know nothing about how to evaluate stuff. I always get good evaluations except for here…

– I should also go around telling my colleagues to avoid certain students because they give such low ratings.

– I want to call the students into my office one by one and nit-pick the evaluations. “How could you give me a four on the ‘Is always prepared’ item? I mean, sure I missed a couple classes and occasionally repeated a lecture but, I mean, come on…”

– I will ask loudly why my students don’t understand that I tried really, really hard to teach them stuff and it’s so not my fault that I got these evaluation scores. Doesn’t effort count?

– I will get revenge on them by posting mean things on Facebook before finally developing a website called “mystupidstudentsareassholes.com” which I will update forever until I get bored in three days.

– I will look at only the “Overall, this professor did a good job” grade and ignore the rest of the feedback. I will then throw them out.

OK, back to grading finals. Thanks for the breather…

Doc

7 thoughts on ““Will this question be on the course evaluation?”

  1. Alger says:

    I feel your pain. Deeply.

  2. Phalamir says:

    My institution went to student evals being done electronically on Blackboard. Participation has dropped precipitously – I led the department with a high of 6 evaluations in a section.

  3. MapleStreet says:

    I feel for you – not to mention that in most cases, personnel evaluations are protected records. But most of all, looking back at my profs, some of the ones that I NOW consider as being among the best weren’t necessarily seen that way at the time.
    But also, for an instructor, like a musical performance, the energies of the performer and audience highly influence each other and the final product.

  4. Dr A says:

    Too funny, Doc!
    I like the complaints from students who complain about material on the exam (particularly new material) that wasn’t in last year’s notes sets…because the lectures are updated, moron!
    Sigh.
    This year, I have gotten more emails that the lecturers aren’t teaching what is going to be on the STEP 1 (national)exam and why do we have so much blood bank anyway? (because, it’s important in medicine?) It’s not on the step 1…grrrr!
    So, we have almost 200 students in our 2nd year class…and they take exams in large rooms on their laptops…trying to simulate the board exam experience…and I go in one room, and I don’t recognize anybody! Weird!
    Oh well…c’est la vie!

  5. Phyllis says:

    Sounds a lot like the kids at the high school in the district where I work. Lolsob.

  6. quixote says:

    The open comment is the only useful part of the evals. The averages based on the multiple choice sections are useful in a range of plus or minus two points. That’s out of five. Do the math, as they say. I never even looked at those scores, but I’d read every single comment and use the input to adapt my teaching style.
    And that’s the part that’s gone. It figures.

  7. Someonegraduatingwithamortgageofdebt says:

    Forgot to add that
    “In addition to my job as a professor I am working another job to make ends meet and that my students require me to buy new software for lectures every semester which have a return value of about 30% of the original price if it is returnable at all and not a new addition that changed nothing but the layout.”

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