Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Student Evaluation Season

This quote from a recent Chronicle article says it best:

"They were killing me on my reviews," he told me. It wasn't that his courses were boring or irrelevant — they were just too hard. "So after a year or two, I started giving better grades," he said. "And what do you know? My scores went up."

So, do we focus on doing our jobs helping students learn for the long-term or focus on short-term likability factors (sometimes known as the path of least resistance)?

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They're NOT evaluations!!!

Personnel evaluation at universities should be conducted by peers and chairs, not students, so we rule that out. And you KNOW that your students are evaluating the course in the real sense from the first day, and by the time they fill in the bubbles (or click on the bubbles online), they've already told their classmates what they think of the class.

They're ratings. Evaluation is a thoughtful reflection on what's happened or is happening, geared towards changing practice. Ratings can be part of that, but the student end-of-semester surveys are not the sum total of evaluation, and I wish people would stop using that term.

Yes, it's a pet peeve, and I'm doing my best to infect my friends and anyone who reads your blog with it.
Too bad our university and our students still uses the term evaluation.

I will do my part to start using the word ratings.

And, in fact, I would actually like it if my peers and administrators would visit my classroom - or at least review my CMS site - occasionally.
Ratings is good.

I like "feedback" myself, because it puts the emphasis on the degree to which we can use the data to improve our teaching, highlights for students the fact that they are communicating something with these ratings.
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