Professor evaluations aren't fully understood

The time of year where students cram for finals, sell back books and fill out professor evaluations is upon us. These scantron-like forms have been passed out and bubbled in all across campus. However, what’s written on them and what happens to them after all is said and done, remains a mystery to much of the student body.

“I think they’re seen as pointless,” sophomore and business management major Ben Sparks said. “Most people don’t actually do anything with them, just fill them out and leave class.”

For some students, the rush is a reflection of just how much the class means to them.

“It depends on the classes,” junior and biology major Kayleigh Watson said. “I evaluate my biology classes very seriously, but might not with an elective.”

However, these evaluations might be more important then students believe them to be.

“After they’re analyzed, they’re made available online to students on their my.emich tab,” lecturer and the person who handles the evaluations Elliot Bonem said. “If students are interested, they can use the results to help them select classes, and the professor can use the results to help improve their teaching.”

However, these aren’t intended for quick fixes to serious problems that may have arose in the class.

“The ideal venue for submitting serious complaints aren’t course evaluations,” Bonem said. “Speak to the professor and if it’s not resolved, take it to the department head. If it’s a serious concern, students shouldn’t wait to fill out the evaluation, bring it to the attention of the department head.”

While they shouldn’t be the tools to handle big issues, these pieces of paper can have longer lasting implications for the instructor of the course.

“Usually, the person applying for a promotion submits evaluations and discusses what’s going on with their teaching,” Bonem said. “They’re evaluated on their teaching ability. These evaluations are extremely important.”

The evaluations, which were created for students to have the ability to tell professors what they thought of the classes, are taken seriously by more than just staff as well.

“It’s feedback,” junior and nursing student Danika Chun said. “It can’t hurt for instructors to take into consideration what students feel.”

Though, it is not the most effective system if the students don’t do their part.

“I figured they had an effect and I take them seriously,” Watson said. “But when people don’t take them seriously, it affects the teacher.”

But if students knew all of the information about how they are used and how readily available they are on the my.emich page, students might look at them in a differently.

“I know tons of people who go to ratemyprofessor.com,” Chun said. “I’ve never met anyone who knows about seeing evaluations from previous years.”

Even students who didn’t take it as seriously before may start filling in more then just the bubbles on the forms.

“I barely ever write anything,” Sparks said. “But now I will fill it out for sure, at least a couple sentences.”


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