Students work to increase access to course evaluations

by Anna Weggel

Students can access the student section of past course evaluations through One Stop, but some say the search is complicated.

Members of the Student Senate and the Minnesota Student Association are working to make accessing evaluations easier.

“The only way (to access the evaluations) is a really complicated link search thing that nobody even knows about,” said Nathan Wanderman, executive member of the Student Senate.

Wanderman met with Mary Koskan, a One Stop departmental director, Friday to discuss a new idea for accessing the evaluations.

Wanderman said he wants students to be able to access the evaluations through a link on top of a course description in the One Stop course guide, alongside links to books and class schedules.

The student section of the evaluations – which is the section that would be made public – deals with topics such as learning environments, teacher expectations and class activities.

The section is the bottom portion of the paper evaluations students fill out for a class at the end of each semester.

Wanderman said his other goal is to increase the number of evaluations released, because teachers have to give permission to have them released.

“If teachers know that students are using (course evaluations), they will have a greater incentive to release them,” Wanderman said.

Rick Orr, MSA Academics and Services Committee chairman, said MSA was working on a Web site through which students could evaluate their teachers but decided to support Wanderman’s idea.

“We were asked by the Student Senate and the University Senate to wait on that project, because they were trying to work on evaluations that currently exist,” he said.

Orr said having evaluations easily accessible will largely benefit students.

“With the amount of money and tuition going up, students are expected to spend more money on courses,” he said. “I believe I deserve the right to research these courses and get the best professors I can get, if I’m going to spend the money.”

Orr said the evaluations could also help the University.

“This will also benefit the University as a way to find out how effective professors are for the students and the University,” Orr said. “That should send a powerful message to the administration.”

First-year family social science student Julia Richard said she looks on One Stop to see if teachers have any awards or honorable mentions listed when she’s choosing her classes.

Richard said she would use the new system if it were available.

“In the long run, it would help out students to choose between courses,” she said.