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5 April 2012

Professor reviews deserve bigger impact

Over the course of their academic careers, some students encounter the same scheduling dilemma: take a required class with a professor who has consistently poor ratings or rearrange your schedule in order to take that class with the better professor.

Every semester, students are asked to complete teacher evaluations with the incentive of having access to early grade viewing. The criteria of the evaluation include professors’ friendliness, presentation of material, willingness to meet with students, and whether course objectives were met.

Students complete these evaluations with certain expectations. They feel that the completion of this form will allow their thoughts to be heard and acted upon. But when the same professors continue teaching after receiving extremely bad reviews, it is disappointing.

Although students undoubtedly appreciate professors’ efforts and value their expertise, there are many times when teachers’ techniques fall short.

Currently, student reviews aren’t the only factor in evaluating instructors’ overall performance.  According to Thomas LeBlanc, executive vice president and provost at the University of Miami, students’ evaluations are taken into account, as are classroom sit-ins by senior colleagues and department chair evaluations.

Student evaluations largely impact the tenure process, which allows instructors to secure their positions at the university. But most importantly, student reviews affect other students’ opinions when they choose classes.

But students want to have a more impactful say in which professors truly benefit their education. When students are forced to take a class with a  professor who has poor reviews, the UM experience becomes less meaningful. A bad instructor could even potentially discourage a student from pursuing their goals or a particular major. Students deserve the best education possible.

It is disheartening to hear that UM is considered the No. 1 university in Florida according to U.S. News and World Report, but not one professor from UM is listed on the Princeton Review’s list of the 300 best professors in the U.S. In contrast, three professors from the University of Florida made the list.

But until student opinion impacts the quality of professors who teach classes at UM, students should continue to make their voices heard by completing honest evaluations offered by UM, as well as Ratemyprofessors.com and other similar websites.

 

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.