At the end of the semester, you may be asked to fill out an instructor evaluation form. This gives you a chance to rate your professor. Usually you will be asked to complete a list of bubble-sheet questions. They will ask you questions like “On a scale from 1 to 7, with 7 being the highest, how enthusiastic was your instructor about the topic?” You will also be asked to answer some questions with a longer, written response.
Take these evaluations seriously. Your opinion does matter. Evaluations are used to determine several things. It is a tool used for job performance evaluations. Good evaluations can help a professor receive raises, awards, and promotions. If your professor is not yet tenured, they will need consistently good evaluations to get tenure. A professor usually won’t be fired for a bad evaluation, but they will be expected to address weak areas and show improvement.
Another use of evaluations is to get feedback about the class. They help professors identify problems and indicate possible ways to fix them. The bubble-sheet answers are helpful, but professors really value written feedback. If you are interested in helping out the professor, the department, and future students, take the time to leave constructive feedback. Here are some suggestions:
A relatively new way to learn about your professors is through on-line teacher evaluation web sites. These sites are usually anonymous. They are available to anyone with internet access. Unfortunately, anyone can post an opinion, even someone who has never taken the class.
Is this use of technology helpful to the education process? These sites do provide students with information about their professors. Students may also be more comfortable leaving information on a website rather than in class, where a professor might be able to identify their handwriting. On the other hand, reliability of the information may be a problem. Students who leave feedback for a professor may do so because they either love or hate a professor. This may skew results. While most feedback is well-written and useful, some students use these sites as an anonymous way to flame a professor.
Imagine there was a web site for student evaluations. Professors would be allowed to leave nasty, anonymous reviews about problem students. It makes you a little nervous, doesn’t it? Professors feel the same way.
Should students use teacher evaluation web sites? By all means, take advantage of them. Keep in mind though that they’re only one source of information and may not be the most reliable source. If you are going to leave feedback, be constructive and honest. Once again, this is not the time to satisfy your revenge fantasies.