Teacher evaluations a waste of time

Most students dread this time of the year: cramming to finish assignments that have been haunting you all semester in the final weeks, and on top of this, you realize you have to register for classes.

No one wants to get stuck taking the professor that friends and acquaintances have warned you against: the typical class from Hell.

Like a good student, you login to EASY and do some investigative research. As you can already guess, what UM offers for a rating and evaluation system on a professor obviously doesn’t prove to be satisfactory.

Of course, UM wouldn’t want to present any professor in a bad light but the real question remains: What do five Scantron-esque questions on the evaluation form regarding the quality of the professor and class really account for?

When a student looks up a course and professor, one can view the basic questions and answers based on a scale from 0 to 100: would you recommend this class to a friend, is the material presented effectively, and if the exams and assignments reflect the goals of the course.

In the broadest sense, you can judge a teacher’s performance based solely on the evaluation, but how true is the information submitted? As a junior, I have sat through my share of evaluations. Usually distributed at the end of class, students can’t wait for the professor to stop lecturing and exit the room. They fill out the form in 30 seconds, let the brown-noser take care of the golf pencils and ultimately, win a free 10 minutes out of class. Starbucks, anyone?

Or the opposite scenario ensues, the professor waits at the end of class to take the sheets himself; although, the sheets are supposed to be returned to the dean by a student to secure anonymity. If a student was going to give a-no-holds-bar synopsis of the class, this has all but been destroyed because of an underlying fear that the professor could see what you wrote. There goes your A.

I don’t blame those who rush through the Scantron and scribble illegibly on the comment sheet. But with this being said, how accurate are the Scantrons? Who’s to say you don’t just pick B all the way down? I’ve done it.

Are we ultimately screwing each other over by not taking the time to sincerely fill out these evaluations? As it is, the system barely factors into my decision whether or not to take a professor-everyone knows to get the real dirt off of ratemyprofessors.com.

Granted, the Scantron questions are general, and the real substance (if at all) expressed about the class and professor is haphazardly written on the comment sheets. Then again we never see these, so maybe it’s a lost cause. The “truth” goes to the dean of the school, program director, and professor.

If ratemyprofessors.com is going to give us the dirt, what is the administration scared of us seeing on the comment sheets? Post it, too.

Amy Sofka is a junior majoring in journalism and creative writing and may be contacted at a.sofka@umiami.edu.

April 17, 2007


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.