Save student evaluations

Seniors often muse that if they could do college all over again they’d be able to graduate in less time. After all, a person who spends approximately half a decade with the same institution learns a lot about its inner workings. Students learn the policies and protocols, classes that will meet more than one requirement, how to petition for credit, which teachers are good, and so on.

The University spends big bucks to provide this information to incoming students, but it often takes time and experience for students to absorb it all. Still, the University must do its best to provide information to students that will help expedite this learning process. And one thing that would immediately have positive results would be to provide students access to student evaluations of instructors and courses.

The end of the semester is fast approaching, and among other things that means the time is nearing when instructors will ask for volunteers to distribute, collect and return student evaluations. Unfortunately, this is often the only involvement students have with the evaluations. Very few evaluations are made available, because instructor permission is required to release the so-called private information, and not many instructors give their consent, leaving students in the dark.

Providing students with Internet access to evaluations will significantly streamline the way the information is now dispersed. Currently, students must search for former students of the class or instructor and then hope the opinion they find is representative. It’s not a very effective method. Making more student evaluations available on the Internet would offer a way to fix that by providing new students the knowledge of classes and instructors gained by a greater number of those who have experienced it.

This information will help students select which classes to take and which to avoid. Students who demand more from themselves and their education will take courses with instructors that will challenge them. And students who already have four difficult classes might want a fifth class that historically has been easier. This kind of information saves students from attending a class for two weeks and then dropping it because they’ve realized the instructor or course isn’t what they wanted, which can leave them three or four credits short of their desired credit load. Allowing students access to evaluations will also make instructors and course creators more accountable. If an instructor’s class is too easy and provides too little information, there would probably be a drop in
enrollment as a result, necessitating a change.

Other universities, such as the University of Colorado – Boulder, have made their evaluations available to students online. The University needs to follow this progressive movement. A student committee needs to be created to work with administrators to create effective questions that will best represent students’ opinions, and these opinions need to be made available on the Internet.