Public evaluations an important guide

Students who take teacher evaluations seriously provide helpful insight to others

The Student Senate is right to push for public posting of course evaluations.
Critics, including some professors, argue that University-administered student evaluations of courses and instructors fall short of their intended purpose. True, some students may not invest much effort in accurately rating courses, and others might let personal bias interfere with an objective review of a professor. Yet evaluations such as these remain a vital source of information offered by students, for students regarding course offerings. Though some may not care, there remain many students who take the time to provide valuable feedback about both courses and professors. In the case of those evaluations completed in the classroom at the end of a course, publicly available assessments may be cursory, but they also provide a measure of the learning experience, for better or for worse. Some answers may be bitter, careless, or gushing, but students are smart enough to take these kinds of evaluations with a grain of salt. With rising tuition costs and fewer course offerings, it is more important than ever for students to take the sources of their education seriously and work to improve academic communities. Student evaluations provide general insight as well as differing opinions on courses and professors. This insight is important even if Universities choose not to use the evaluations in determining tenure or continuations of courses, since students have a vested interest in making sure their professors will aid in their college education and deliver a positive experience. Are evaluations inherently biased? Of course. But isnâÄôt that the point? After all, who other than students can provide any real insight into the professors who teach them? Student evaluations may have some shortcomings to beat, but they should still serve an important role in shaping higher education in the future. Making semester-end evaluations publicly available will help guide students who are anxious to take charge of their experience at the U. Jon Radermacher welcomes comments at [email protected]