“If I died and went straight to hell, it would take me a week to realize I wasn’t in this class anymore.”
That’s what I’ve found myself thinking at several points throughout this semester. Now that it’s almost over, I can say so in my course evaluations.
For the 50 percent of students who take them seriously, evaluations are an opportunity to inform faculty of what works and what doesn’t. They’re a chance to tell professors “You’ve been an inspiration,” “Thanks for a great semester,” or – in the most diplomatic terms possible – “Hey, your class made me miserable, and I still didn’t learn anything.”
It’s nice to turn the tables, to assign a grade to someone who has been grading me all along. Unfortunately, Gannon University’s course evaluations aren’t as practical as they could be.
One reason: They’re done on paper, an antiquated concept in an age where cars are learning to drive themselves. Not only is this practice dated, it’s outright wasteful.
If every one of Gannon’s 3,000 undergrads fills out five evaluations, that’s 15,000 sheets of paper and who knows how much toner. Barbara Boxer would have a stroke.
Aside from being eco-friendly, online evaluations provide anonymity for students. Maybe I’m paranoid, but isn’t it possible that a professor might recognize my handwriting? And isn’t it possible they’ll be offended if that handwriting says “poor communication skills” or “boring lectures?” They all claim that they don’t take it personally, but who doesn’t take criticism just a little personally?
This becomes a problem when I know I’ll probably have a professor again. I have to decide whether it’s worth it to be honest and risk a grudge.
Is it too much to ask that my evaluation be totally anonymous?
Another advantage of online evaluations is their convenience. Students wouldn’t feel rushed to complete them, and they wouldn’t get left out if they missed class on evaluation day.
To ensure students’ participation, Gannon could tie them to transcripts. In that case, students wouldn’t have access to their transcripts until after they’ve finished their course evaluations.
Convenience, anonymity, environmental impact – they’re all solid arguments for new evaluation methods. The main change I’d like to see, though, is the ability to take one after the final.
As it stands, students have to assess a class based on everything except the final. But the final is a significant chunk of my grade. Shouldn’t it be considered in my professor’s evaluation? Shouldn’t it be part of their grade?
I’m still looking forward to evaluations, despite some imperfections. After all, they’re a sign that this tough year has come to an end.