Get more teacher evaluations online

More accessible evaluations can be a useful tool for students, if used correctly.

Last week, the Student Senate passed two long-overdue resolutions aimed at making teacher evaluations available to students online.

Though the resolutions mean little without support from faculty members and One Stop officials, it’s good to see some action being taken on this issue, which has been talked about for several years.

Currently, teacher evaluations are published online with a professor’s consent. The Student Senate’s resolutions encourage more professors to get their evaluations on the Web and call for better accessibility for students.

Obviously, making teacher evaluations public could allow students to make more informed decisions about what professors will provide them with the highest-quality learning experience. But making evaluations public has some drawbacks that students should keep in mind.

Students should take evaluations seriously, but not all of them do. Professors considered to be easy graders will probably get great evaluations. But those professors are not necessarily the most beneficial for students.

It is easy for students to become frustrated with large homework loads and long lectures, but the quality of education often depends on the workload. A class might be extremely difficult, but students learn more in it than any other class. Should that professor receive a poor evaluation? No.

Some professors have voiced concern about public evaluations becoming a ratings game, potentially causing professors to change their teaching styles to achieve higher ratings. If this happened, it could lead to poorer-quality education and grade inflation.

Hopefully, professors would not become overly concerned with how they were seen in the public eye. Part of how they receive promotions, salary increases and tenure already depends on their evaluations, whether they are more accessible or not.

If evaluations are taken seriously, they can be a useful tool for students looking for the right teacher. Take that into consideration at the end of this semester.