Grading the graders

Properly evaluating and discussing a course’s effectiveness is crucial for future students.

Aditi Pradeep

It’s that time of the year when students don long johns and pack two thermoses of coffee to stay warm and awake for a week of all-nighters. An entire semester often boils down to one big final. Naturally, college kids spend these days focused on exams and assignments. However, while students focus on a good grade, they shouldn’t overlook their educators’ own grades.

At the end of each semester, instructors request students to evaluate their performance through Student Rating of Teaching forms.

They may seem trivial, but these evaluations are important. The University may use them in decisions about a teacher’s salary, tenure and standing in their college or department. If students have suggestions to improve a class, this is one medium for the discussion. Students should also consider speaking with teachers directly.

On those last days of class, students turn their blinders on. They rush to get out of lectures and discussions so they can begin setting up camp at the library. However, as important as final exams and assignments are for our future, SRTs may have a broader effect across a department or college. Professors genuinely need that information to ensure that future classes are successful, or at least to adjust a course so future generations of students don’t have a poor experience.

The evaluations are for the benefit of the professors, but when filled out responsibly, SRTs could better a course, department or the entire University. Giving constructive criticism can keep overly difficult, or even disrespectful, professors in check. These SRTs allow students to hold professors responsible for teaching in a manner that benefits a majority of students.

If students are adamant about an idea or recommendation, then they should take the conversation to a teacher. Having an open discussion face to face may mean more than dozens or hundreds of evaluations.

I implore educators to take into consideration what students have recommended this week. The learning process works best when both teachers and students are involved.