As the end of the semester approaches, course evaluations have been sent out to all students and inboxes have been flooded with EvaluationKIT Support’s “It’s not too late – classes end soon!” emails.
The flurry of messages remind students the last day to submit course evaluations, in which students can assess the classes and professors they took during the semester, is the last day of fall classes, Dec. 10.
Course evaluations are an optional way for students to give feedback to their professors on their classes and to the University on its professors. Evaluations are anonymous, though professors can track what percentage of their students have filled out evaluations for each course. Only after grades are posted and finalized at the end of the semester can professors see the content of the evaluations.
In addition to giving feedback to professors on their teaching and materials, evaluations give UW officials information on the performance of faculty and staff. This information is used in employment decisions like awarding tenure.
“I do think they [evaluations] are necessary because this is the best way to get a big group’s opinion on a course or specific professor,” freshman Zachery Gunter said. “The only way it can make a big difference is if a large majority of the students all said something was really bad, and I personally think that’s okay.”
When students finally get around to it, the evaluations go over simple topics, such as how the teacher effectively used their class time, how prepared they were, if they would recommend the teacher to another and end with a section where students can type out their opinions. This is where the true feelings come out, bad or good.
“I did the evaluations because I feel this was the best way to voice my opinion on each course as well as the professors,” Gunter said. “This way if I had a problem or concern, I could voice it without it possibly harming my grade and on the other hand I can express how much I enjoyed a course or specific professor.”
Though for some classes students may use evaluations to express positive feedback, there are countless memes that have been posted about students “roasting” their professors or students tweeting about how they can’t wait to do professor so-and-so’s evaluations to really “spill the tea” on how awful of a teacher they were.
To encourage participation in the evaluation process, some professors offer extra credit if a certain percentage of the class completes evaluations. Since there is no way to track which individuals have specially filled out evaluations or what they said, professors can’t threaten to punish students for not filling them out or for giving negative feedback.
Regardless of whether students feel like filling out evaluations or not, they will be bombarded with reminder emails until they do or until the semester ends. Once completed, the only hint that evaluations will be useful and important is an automatic email informing students: “Thank you for participating in the evaluation of this course! Your feedback will make a difference.”
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