By MICHELLE KIM – CENTO WRITER
Every semester in the midst of finals, students are asked to sit down and critically evaluate their professors. Many students consider professor and course evaluations as a burden, while some find it a useful exercise in reflection.
Something that is undeniable, however, is the importance of these evaluations to the administration, professors, and to future students. While the questions may seem tedious and ill-timed, they provide a wealth of invaluable information that helps Centre stand out.
Many students believe in the importance of teacher evaluations.
“I think [they are important], to a certain extent, but I also think it would be more helpful if students took it more seriously,” sophomore Brittany Hill said.
The course evaluations window is open for students to give their honest feedback about their professors, the good or the bad. Most students on this campus could likely admit to writing at least one bad evaluation, but some disagree about the appropriateness of this sort of response. “I don’t think course evaluations are a time to trash your professor,” Hill said.
Students have several critics of course evaluations. This is for two main reasons: the questions in the survey, as well as the practice of course evaluations overall.
Junior Paddack Bahlman labels the questions as “apocalyptically dull,” and believes the institution of teacher evaluations is a “ploy by the administration.”
Regardless of these beliefs, he still fills them out at the end of each semester. This is because of his belief that they are “ultimately about free speech,” and is always welcome to informing helpful professors how “inherently wonderful” their classes are.
Students in the past have reacted by not answering the evaluations, opting to receive their grades at a later date. However, worse than forgoing the evaluations altogether, is to fly through them without any consideration for the professors themselves. Though this may seem like a good idea, it has the potential for hurting the College more than helping.
Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Beth Glazier-McDonald believes that students have a “tremendous amount of responsibility to fill them out responsibly.”
Dean Glazier-McDonald believes the best evaluations contain constructive criticisms and are completely honest when it comes to how the professor or class could be better suited to the student.
A common misconception regarding course evaluations is that they are not anonymous; this is by no means true.
Evaluations are completely anonymous–even for the administration–and have absolutely no effect on your final grade. Professors are unable to view their evaluations until they have turned in grades for all classes. Dean Glazier-McDonald believes this helps keep professors accountable to not only themselves, but to the administration as well.
By and large, one of the largest complaints about evaluations is their timing. Evaluations take place in the heart of finals week, and while this may be a busy time for everyone, Dean Glazier-McDonald does not believe there is a better time for evaluations.
For example, if they were done at the midterm, she would not be able to “look at the course as a whole, before the final.” She admits that the final exam in certain classes may skew a student’s perspective of the class as a whole.
Dean Glazier-McDonald reads each and every evaluation given to professors, and has spent many years creating an evaluation process that works really well. She compares the process at Centre to one at a different college, and is confident that the one she and other administrators have created “works very well.”
Students are weary about this. Bahlman believes that “students [currently enrolled in the class] might not benefit” from the evaluations because there is a slim chance they will enroll in the same professor’s class again. Overall, Bahlman described evaluations as “potentially helpful” and “a good idea, but flawed in practice.” Hill sees both sides of the situation. “I can see [timing] being an issue because it is too late to solve any semester issues, but too early to evaluate class as a whole,” Hill said.
Time management is often a problem during finals and having evaluations during an earlier period in the semester would be beneficial, but Dean Glazier-McDonald described a cycle we all know to be completely accurate. She maintains that students “put [evaluations] off, then complain there’s not enough time to do it.” Dean Glazier-McDonald recommends doing one to two per night, and making sure you are focused while doing so.
Overall, it is important to complete all evaluations in a thorough and timely manner. Dean Glazier-McDonald emphasized “how serious we take these, and how important they are to the faculty.” Faculty members utilize these resources in order to benefit students- help them help you.