Evaluations are for change, not critique

What good are teacher evaluations if they are only offered at the end of the semester?

There are clearly different ways to evaluate a professor.

Whether it’s holding a meeting with your professors, anonymously writing every gripe you’ve ever had about them on a course evaluation or using outside-rating Web sites, the fact is that it needs to be done.

Though there is a time and place for Web site evaluations, the release of ratemyprofessor.com’s new picture function proves to be somewhat useless and a little unfair. Its “professor photo” feature encourages students to take pictures of their professors and submit them for publication on the site. Students can then anonymously rate aspects about their professors, including whether they are “hot or not.”

Professors do not have to grant permission for the photos to be displayed, but site administrators do cross-reference other pictures to make sure they are legitimate.

The idea of a professor-rating site is a good one, but if the focus is going to shift from honest, informational evaluations to a hotornot.com-type rating system, its intentions have failed.

This should encourage us to take a look at the University’s evaluation system and the way we are evaluating our professors. While the merits of an end-of-semester bubble-sheet evaluation system are clear, should we really be waiting until the end of the semester to tell our professors how their doing?

If they have not done so, professors should start offering students the chance to fill out evaluations mid-semester so they can apply the applicable student sentiment to their teaching practices.

While some professors have an unchangeable curriculum, it still doesn’t hurt to give students a chance to offer feedback on teaching style or classroom amenities. If students are only able to evaluate teachers at the end of the semester, it will only affect the next batch of students taking the course, if affecting anything all.

Surely professors wouldn’t want a student to go through an entire semester dealing with a problem that could have been easily fixed had they been given a chance to offer up their thoughts in a midsemester evaluation.