It’s the last day of classes and the internal battle of whether to go or not to go ensues. For some students, attending their last day is vital to have those last burning questions concerning their grades or final exam answered. Others deem it pointless because professors typically use the class to discuss the dismal state of the economy for graduates, stress the importance of internships and then elicit extra credit to the student who hands out those dreaded student evaluation forms.
Student feedback forms are considered “an integral part of assuring quality in the University’s educational programs,” according to Temple’s Policies and Procedures Manual. Although it appears to be “an integral part of assuring quality” to the office of the president, these student feedback forms prove to be pointless.
First, they are incredibly biased due to the dependability of the student’s personal view of that professor and lack complete representation of an entire class if there are students who opted to play hookie for the last week of the semester.
Secondly, many students admit to blindly bubbling in “strongly agree” or “agree” to answer those questions and leaving the back portion of the form completely blank.
“My freshman year I took my time filling them out and actually read the questions being asked but after my first semester it’s just become a routine task that I don’t necessarily look forward to,” junior public health major Lauren Hinson said.
The policy was adopted by former Temple President David Adamany in 2002 and has been in effect since.
Contrary to popular belief of the student body, faculty members do receive copies of these forms to “be used for self-assessment and when indicated, improvement of their teaching,” according to the policies and procedures manual. Deans also compile summary results to aid in the “purposes of retention, promotion, tenure, and merit decisions and to department chairs and faculty committees that provide advice to the administration regarding the awarding of tenure, promotion and merit.”
“I feel like [professors] choose five out of each section [they taught] and skim over them because there is entirely way too many to read and five people saying that you’re a horrible teacher isn’t going to necessarily change their teaching style,” Hinson said.
Professors who have received bad evaluations, but have already received tenure appear to almost be safe when it comes to these evaluations.
Teaching assistants who may have practically taught a course better than the tenured professor remain in a state of purgatory as they await their notification of the most sought for award: tenure.
“I’ve had two professors so far who have created their own mid-semester evaluation forms, Beth Meyers a graduate student who taught a human sexuality course for instance, and to me that shows that they care and want honest opinions and because of that I put in more effort instead of blindly bubbling in agree, neutral or disagree,” Hinson said. “Both of these evaluations were done in the middle of the semester so I felt that it would have a direct impact on me versus filling out the forms at the end which is supposed to help the next semester of students whose grades I don’t necessarily care about.”
In many cases, professors don’t receive these evaluation forms until months into the next semester.
“Often times we don’t get these evaluation forms until a year after the class has been taught,” sociology professor Dr. David Elesh said.
Dr. Elesh received last semester’s student evaluations about two weeks ago. If these forms are important, professors should be receiving their evaluations at least two weeks prior to the new semester to help them improve their teaching.
Although, the idea of having students contribute to the evaluation of their professors is necessary, students in a course that are really having problems with their professor should take the more efficient step, which would be to take their complaints to the dean of the school or to their advisor.
Alexandra Olivier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.