Professor evaluations hold value

Registration for spring semester begins Nov. 11. Until then, students will lose sleep over their systematic attempts to come up with the ideal schedule: an arrangement of fascinating course topics taught at reasonable hours by the best instructors on campus.
Professors can make or break a learning experience, which is why students consult websites like RateMyProfessors.com or instructor evaluations on CaneLink.
During our searches, it’s disheartening to find a class that sounds so intriguing being taught by a professor who receives consistently poor reviews. Yes, there will always be the whining students who complain on Rate My Professors about instructors who give challenging exams, but the professors who repeatedly receive low scores across all platforms are worth the alarm.
These are the professors who students have come to know to avoid taking a course with. And students try to convey that in the faculty evaluations the university asks us to fill out at the end of each semester.
These professors continue to receive poor ratings, and it makes us wonder what the university is doing with our feedback if no changes are being made. In the same way that students use these numbers to determine which classes to take, administrators should take note of the data as well.
It’s the responsibility of the university to ensure that its faculty and staff are of the highest quality, and this means both in the lab and in the classroom. A professor is often both a researcher and a lecturer. Not all professors are good teachers, and that’s the problem.
We are the university’s customers, and the opinions we voice in these end-of-semester surveys should be taken seriously and reflect more heavily on the teachers, whose services we pay tuition for.
We acknowledge that some students fill out the surveys halfheartedly because of the incentive to see their final grades early. Thus, they may not sufficiently indicate a professor’s teaching competence, or lack thereof.
That is why each department should offer open-ended written evaluations, much like the English and foreign language departments issue during the last week of classes. These would hold professors accountable and make students feel like their voices have been heard.
We’d hope that individual departments would then implement curriculum changes, professional development workshops or other solutions to maintain professors who are as top-tier as our students.

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

October 30, 2013


The Miami Hurricane

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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.