Course evaluations are underestimated

They happen every semester. Emails pop up in your inbox and professors start a never-ending stream of reminders for class evaluations. Even though class evaluations might be pesky, there’s a real reason behind why students are asked to evaluate classes and professors.

Many students disregard end of semester evaluations. After all, there are normally 20 or so other students in the class, right? Surely one of them will fill out the evaluation. And how seriously do professors take those anyway?

You’d be surprised how seriously they take them.

Samuel Thomas, who has a doctorate in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity and teaches religion courses at California Lutheran University, believes in taking class evaluations into consideration to effectively adjust a course for coming years. He thinks these evaluations offer students and professors the chance to have an informal conversation that can result in open and candid critique of a course.

“Class evaluations are one of several tools that help professors be better teachers,” Thomas said. “They are something students ought to do and should take seriously.”

Students have an obligation to themselves, to future students and to professors to give feedback on classes they take and offer suggestions for the future. These evaluations help professors change or adapt classes based on what current students are either interested in or need to learn.

The most important aspect of class evaluations is it gives students a voice among the faculty. In most cases, faculty members do not sit in on other classes in their department. They trust their fellow professors to be teaching relevant information in clear and accessible methods. Class evaluations are like the checks and balances of the college teaching system. It allows professors to do their jobs while maintaining accountability to those students whom they teach.

Senior Joette Carini, a political science major, says class and professor evaluations are much more important because we’re at a small school.

“Because we are so small, the professors and department chairs care about how we, as students, feel about them and about their courses,” Carini said.

Since department chairs,and professors read every evaluation about a class, they make a huge difference in how hiring decisions are made. Departments at CLU want to be known for having great professors who are not only well liked, but who teach with sincerity and knowledge.

Class evaluations can also help weed out professors who don’t do an adequate job teaching material that students need to learn to succeed in their careers. Every student can have indifferences with a professor. It’s bound to happen at least once in four years. Class evaluations give students a voice and a platform to express their opinions.

Junior Maxi Jones, a bioengineering major, has had the same experiences when using class evaluations as a way to have that informal conversation with professors. However, she recognizes that it’s the students’ responsibility to fill them out in a way that is helpful rather than hurtful.

“If students just complain, it’s useless, but providing constructive criticisms that have a rationale basis will mean that professors will be more likely to make changes,” Jones said. “If we [as students] are more conscious about our responses, professors will be too.”

Whether or not students perceive them to be, filling out class evaluations is important. Students have a right and responsibility to be involved in their education.

“I think they’re important because obviously we pay a lot to come here,” Carini said. “Professors and students should know, even to the smallest detail, that professors are doing everything right.”

 

Megan Callery
Staff Writer
Published April 30, 2014