The University of Miami, aka Green U, is considering moving faculty course evaluations online.
This decision has already sparked some controversy, but there is no reason why this initiative can’t work. If we truly are Green U, then this decision should be an obvious way to save paper.
But it’s not just a question of saving paper. Some believe students will not take the time to fill out evaluations unless they are required to do so in a classroom environment. Accountability will be lost in an online process because students could be drunk, stoned or just goofing off instead of answering seriously.
To solve this problem, the university should implement a system rewarding students for filling out evaluations. Posting grades one week in advance as an incentive is a good start, but it will take more to motivate students. Giving students an Incomplete if they do not fill out these evaluations, although harsh, may do the trick.
But more importantly, students need to start caring. Period. Professors are concerned about evaluations because student responses help determine who receives tenure. Faculty fear that, if the system is moved online, only students who either hate or love the class will fill out the evaluations. The majority of students, whose opinions fall somewhere in the middle, will be lost.
This is a problem, and the problem starts and ends with the student population. Students must take these evaluations more seriously. Students pay roughly $100 PER CLASS. Even if your pockets are endless, think about those whose aren’t. The cost of tuition pays for professors’ salary, and students should have professors whose classes are worthwhile.
The faculty evaluations affect both faculty and students. Reults are posted on MyUM, allowing students to consult them before selecting classes and professors. If they are not filled out, or they are filled out in a childish manner, students will be affected. This may not matter much to some students until they are the ones burnt by the process.
The evaluation process in general needs to be re-evaluated, regardless of whether it is online or on paper. Tweak the system, put it online and let’s call it a day.