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Evaluations misrepresent

Helpful evaluations or biased commentary?
More and more the line is becoming blurred as students go on the offensive when filling out teacher evaluations.
A recent survey demonstrated that one-third of students at both the University of Northern Iowa and Southeastern Oklahoma State University confessed to lying on course evaluations, according to The Michigan Daily News.
“They are beneficial for the teachers but I don’t think all the students are honest,” junior Megan Czekha said. “They just put down whatever because they don’t want to take the time to do it.”
Others, however, say they fill out the surveys truthfully.
“I filled out five of five evaluations,” freshman Katie Condon said. “I was completely honest in them. I tried to focus more on the course itself rather than the professor.”
A similar problem often plagues the popular review site ratemyprofessors.com where reviews often are biased, offensive and do not focus on the professor’s teaching ability.
“‘O HERROOOO.’ That is all you will understand from this teacher,” wrote one anonymous commentator on the site. “Horrible Chinese accent… the class could have been in German for all I know… Terrible teacher that should just work at a nail salon like her counterparts.”
Despite the fact that many students misuse the evaluation process, the surveys are often crucial in helping professors determine how to improve their classes.
“I do make modifications to a course when a concern or suggestion makes sense to me, whether it’s coming from several students or just one,” English professor Kathryn Freeman said. “For instance, because my handwritten comments on papers are notoriously difficult to read, I have moved towards electronic submission of papers and returning them with comments online.”
But the root of the problem is the fact that many students simply do not fill out the surveys since they are not mandatory.
When questioned whether he had filled out any evaluations for the fall semester, sophomore Janmarco Santiago said “No, for what?”

Ivana Cruz may be contacted at icruz@themiamihurricane.com.

January 23, 2011

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Ivana Cruz


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