You Student's Voice Counts!
Your student may feel like they are only one of many other students here at the University, especially if they’re in their first year. I remember walking into a 600 person lecture in first year and really missing my high school teachers who actually knew my name. It will get better as your student progresses through their degree with smaller classes but it can definitely be intimidating at first.
Professors seem like these all-knowing, powerful and intimidating people. Throughout my degree, I have had many professors. Some have been incredible and have engaged me, taken the time to get to know me and they have inspired me to learn. Others have fallen exceptionally short of what I believe are the expectations of the university.
At the end of each semester, students are given the opportunity to fill out course evaluations about each of the courses they were enrolled in. They can assess the course itself, the assignments in course, the professor’s ability to lecture and their treatment of students among other things and the teaching assistant (TA) if there was one.
I generally always took the time to fill out the course evaluations but I was always skeptical of how much they actually counted. Students can either “sign” the course evaluation or not. If the student does not sign it, the comments only go to the professor. If the student does sign their evaluation, it will be used when the professor is evaluated for tenure, et cetera. The professors don’t receive the feedback until after the final marks are put into the system so there’s no risk of retribution for the students in terms of getting lower marks because of what they write in the evaluation.
It wasn’t until I had a professor who really let me down that I understood how important course evaluations are! I met with the Chair of the Department and they informed me that the course evaluations do in fact count. What students say is taken into serious account when professors are being evaluated for tenure and promotion (and pay increase or decrease!).
Note that having a horrible professor is not something that has happened often. In my four years here, I have only had two professors who truly let me, and my classmates, down. For those two, I had many more who were good and several more who were incredible.
But having those bad experiences showed me how lucky we are when we get to take a course with an incredible professor. I would encourage students to fill out their course evaluations; both good and bad! Professors who are outstanding deserve the recognition and those who aren’t deserve to know how they can improve.
Course evaluations are open until Sunday, April 9, 2012. They can be accessed by clicking here and your student can sign in with their central login.
I highly encourage your student to fill out their course evaluations. They may be one of 600 in a course but their voice counts!