Disappointing Teaching Evaluations

First off, I’m really glad that the teaching evaluations have been moved online: we don’t waste time in class, we can spend more time thinking about our comments, it’s more anonymous so you don’t need to be afraid of creating friction with your professor, and so on. Last term, I discovered that Arts classes asked many more questions than Science ones; it took me quite a while to answer each Arts class, but it was very thorough and I think it’s better that way to give instructors more feedback instead of less.

Generally, my classes have been very good and I don’t have much to complain about. But this term I do have quite a lot of comments to make, and was waiting patiently for the feedback forms, only to discover that the Arts evaluation forms have shortened considerably, to maybe about six multiple-choice questions about the class and six about the instructor. Gone are the boxes for additional comments — now all my remarks are left unsaid.

Quantitative results are imperative, of course, but so are qualitative ones. In fact, I’d argue that qualitative feedback is the best feedback to judge what is wrong with a course and how someone might be able to improve; quantitative feedback just gives a sweeping measure of how well you might be doing, with little to say why you’re in that particular position. It’s not as if I was saving this giant rant for the end of term: no, I wanted to point out a genuine problem and a very obvious solution. And now, most likely, future students are going to experience the same problem and will complain amongst themselves, but who’s going to hear them?

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