Students can view portion of teacher evaluations online

It pays for students to complete instructor evaluation forms thoroughly.

by Yelena Kibasova

Although they might be tedious, students could find some benefit in filling out teacher evaluation forms honestly.

Thomas Dohm, director of the University’s office of measurement services, said the student evaluation forms serve several purposes.

“The primary (reason) is to give feedback to the instructor so that they might be able to improve their teaching,” he said. “It’s also used for promotion and tenure decisions.”

Summary reports of the evaluations are sent to faculty and department heads, but a small portion of the form can be viewed online by students.

“Students have requested that they would like to see the results,” Dohm said.

However, according to the Office of Measurement Services Web site, students can view the student release items only if “the instructor has given OMS explicit permission to release their data.”

Dohm said this is because the information basically counts as part of the instructor’s employment file.

“It’s almost like your performance review,” he said. “You don’t have to release that to other people.”

Most of the questions available for student release are yes-or-no questions such as “I would take another course with this instructor” and results are accessible via the One Stop Web site.

The current forms, used since 1993, are mandatory and typically distributed at the end of the semester.

Joel Samaha, a sociology professor, said he hands them out on the last day of class.

“I try to get as many students as possible to complete the form,” he said. “You can’t get your exam until you complete the form.”

Samaha said he always agrees to release information.

“I think the students and anyone else should know what the students are saying,” he said.

Samaha’s student release items are on the Web site for the criminal procedure in American history class he taught in 2005.

Although he takes the evaluations very seriously, Samaha said he also takes note that they are filled out by students.

“Students are only experts in their experience in the class,” he said. “The students who are doing well will probably look more favorably at the class than students who aren’t.”

Samaha said he takes the results into consideration and sometimes changes his teaching according to the responses.

As for his current evaluation, 100 percent of students in his class said they would take another course with him.

In terms of accuracy, Dohm said he believes the results typically are accurate because students are serious about filling out the evaluations.

“It does take their time to fill it out, and I don’t think they’re just going to waste their time,” he said. “If they’re going to do it, they’re going to do it honestly.”

Erin Steiner, a medical technology senior, said she thinks the evaluations are necessary but a bit redundant.

“I don’t know how much the professors actually take to heart what students have to say,” she said.

When filling out the evaluations, Steiner said she is honest because they are anonymous.

“I think if you actually have something to say, it’s nice to know that your voice is heard,” she said.

Carolyn Quisenberry, a child psychology junior, said the evaluations are very important, because they give students the chance to give their opinion of the instructor.

“The teacher kind of makes or breaks the class,” she said.

Dohm said students can use the released information to get an idea of what a professor is like before they take a class.

He said he hopes University students are well aware they can view the released information.

As for Steiner and Quisenberry, both said they had no idea the information was available but would probably use it to rate future professors.

– Elena Rozwadowski contributed to this report.