By Raysam Donkoh-Halm
Around December, when the semester starts winding down, during class we all take a short 10-minute break from projects and lectures to fill out evaluations for our professors about how they’ve done in the semester. My first year here, I thought course evaluations were a great way for students to let their voices be heard about how the course was taught so that, over time, the course instructor could adjust their teaching style so students could get the most out of the courses we pay for. As a junior, I am starting to question that belief because of the patterns I’ve noticed when it comes time to register for classes.
Like most students, before I register for classes, I compile a list of potential classes and ask my friends around campus about them and how the professor teaches. I also use ratemyprofessor.com if I need to outsource beyond my friends to get multiple students perspectives on a professor’s teaching style. Now kids, the internet is a wonderful place where people can say whatever they want and, unfortunately, that’s also the drawback. Because you can post things anonymously, you have no idea what biases or truths there are to the posts about each professor. For all I know, it could be an angry student who wasn’t happy with their grade and wants to get back at them on the internet, but that’s all I have.
In my experience, some students don’t give a second thought about how they’re rating the professors because they thought the class was OK, but there are other students who can’t wait to get an evaluation form to let the higher-ups know what they really think of that professor, so they can make whatever changes necessary to prevent another student from going through the same negative experience they did that semester. I don’t believe that the evaluations truly can give an accurate insight in how each individual student is thinking when you put it in a standardized test form that a student could just randomly fill to leave class early.
As a student, I don’t think that we are really informed about the power evaluations have on how the course will be taught in the future and I think there can be a better way to get a student’s input on the class besides a standardized test.