| 03.18.2018

The merit of course evals


Students should  fill out course evaluations

It’s that time of the semester — course evaluations are open to students on VandalWeb.

Many students roll their eyes when they get the emails reminding them to fill these evaluations out, but in reality there is a certain degree of merit in taking a few minutes out of the day to answer the questions.

Course evaluations do not take much time to complete and are a valued part of process for professors and academic administrators.

Despite a common belief among students, these evaluations matter.

Course evaluations play a big role in a professor’s merit, promotion and tenure. When a professor asks their students to fill out the evaluations for their course, they hope their students complete them promptly and honestly.

These evaluations not only matter to professors, but also to department heads who often don’t have the time to personally monitor all courses.

Most professors are genuinely interested in what students have to say about their course, and many take the constructive comments students make seriously.

Evaluations can also be used to identify critical concerns students have with a professor’s behavior or conduct in class. Hopefully, University of Idaho administrators read course evaluations more carefully and listen to the concerns students choose to voice.

Such attention to evaluations might have helped prevent the death of graduate student Katy Benoit in 2011, who was killed by a former professor who received some deeply disturbing reviews from students.

For the most part, if students take the time to review their courses, their feedback is considered. The obligation then lies on the students to take advantage of this opportunity and fill out their evaluations honestly.

Just as professors have a responsibility to take these evaluations seriously, so do students. Sure, it might be fun to write a nasty evaluation on a boring professor, but that would be a wasted opportunity. Course evaluations are the most direct form of input students have at UI. It’s a big opportunity, and hardly something students should be rolling their eyes about.

And professors want students to take advantage of course evaluations. This can be seen in the large number of professors who offer extra credit to their classes if the students complete their evaluations — yet another incentive for students to fill them out.

The time to fill out course evaluations is not a time for students to feel lazy or only do it for the extra credit. It’s a time for them to actually think about how they can make the following semester better for their fellow students.

— EB

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