U considers mid-semester class evaluations

Justin Ware

Most students who have completed a University course have penciled in the circles of at least one professor evaluation.

These evaluations are meant to improve curriculum and determine instructor effectiveness. And now University officials are implementing new measures to tweak courses while students are still enrolled in them.

“The University is thinking of pursuing mid-semester evaluations further,” said Bob Ruekert, a marketing professor in the Carlson School of Management.

Ruekert said some professors are paying more attention to midterm evaluations in an attempt to improve the course and serve those currently enrolled. Administering midterm evaluations is optional.

The evaluations consist of questions related to the quality of the course and instructor, including an area for students’ additional concerns.

Andrew Worm, a College of Liberal Arts sophomore, said he doesn’t support midterm evaluations. “I would prefer the teacher gets (the evaluation results) after the course.”

Worm said he doesn’t think students provide accurate responses midway through the term.

“People would try to suck up to the teacher,” he said.

Jean King, an associate professor in educational policy and administration, said she thinks students shouldn’t worry about instructors reprimanding them because of evaluation results.

“(The midterm evaluations) are good,” King said. “It means the teacher wants to get better for the current students.”

Psychology professor Darwin Hendel said the midterm evaluations are meant to improve the course and instructor’s methods.

“It’s the kind of process that isn’t intended to be an overall judgement of the course or instructor,” Hendel said.

While midterm evaluations help professors refine their curricula, the required end-of-semester evaluations can affect professors’ careers.

“They are part of our annual review that helps determine salary from year to year and promotion and tenure,” Ruekert said.

Department chairs and evaluation committees review the mandated evaluations. They send the evaluation results to the Board of Regents, who have the final say in tenure decisions.

Despite the importance of end-of-semester evaluations, some students are not satisfied with the process.

“I wouldn’t fill (an evaluation) out,” said Nathan Leahy, a senior English major.

“I’ve never experienced a teacher come in and say they’re going to change a course because of the evaluations,” Leahy said.

In addition to gauging instructor effectiveness, the end-of-semester evaluations allow students to rate their professor for students interested in taking the class next semester.

Hendel said the required evaluations include 10 questions specifically intended for students to rate their teacher’s performance.

The results from those questions are posted on a Web site students can access with their University passwords.

However, results are withheld from the site if the instructor does not approve of the students’ appraisals.

The Web site is accessible on the course information section of the student’s Onestop page.


Justin Ware welcomes comments at [email protected]