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The Northerner

Course evals important for professors

Brook Clifford, Staff Writer

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Course evaluations often seem like a hassle, waste of time or just not relevant to many students. The evaluations are a series of questions that students are strongly encouraged to fill out for every class they are enrolled in at the end of the semester.
“I don’t think professors and administration take them as seriously as they make it seem,” Meagan Curry, freshman athletic training major, said. “The majority of students don’t give it as much time as they need to. They kind of just run through it.”

Course evaluations are taken pretty seriously, according to history professor Jeffrey Williams, chair of the Professional Concerns Committee.
“It’s crucial for faculty members to get feedback on their classes,” Williams said. “It assesses our effectiveness and helps make improvements. Students should realize that.”

A group of committees on campus work together to look over the evaluations and make improvements to them. Those committees include the Professional Concerns Committee and the Teaching Effectiveness and Enhancement Committee.

The Student Government Association is working to improve resources for students who fill out course evaluations. It passed a resolution hoping to put the quantitative statistics of the evaluations online for students to see.

“We are trying to put it online so that students can see the statistical data,” Erik Pederson, SGA president and junior communication major, said. “We’re comparing it to the social standard, ratemyprofessor.com.”

Faculty members are uneasy about this because teaching is an ongoing work in progress and to a certain extent they would like to keep it to themselves.
“It’s a self evaluation tool for faculty,” Williams said. “That’s why some faculty feel like it’s not appropriate for it to be on public display. Department chairs who make decisions do take the evaluations seriously.”

There are other ways faculty assess each other. Faculty may sit in on other professors’ classes and take notes. However, the evaluation is taken the most seriously.
“I’ve been teaching at NKU for 40 years and every single semester I look forward to getting those evaluations back,” Williams said. “It’s very important feedback. There’s never been a semester that I didn’t take them seriously and modify my courses because of it.”

The Teaching Effectiveness Committee studies the different questions used in evaluations to make improvements to them. They are also responsible for getting the evaluations online.

The course evaluations have not been updated since the ‘70s until now. The Teaching Effectiveness Committee is running a pilot of the updated evaluation questionnaire with the colleges of business, informatics and health professions. If the pilot is successful, they are hoping to make it permanent for the entire university.

“We are taking input from faculty, students and committee chairs,” Kenneth Rhee, chair of the committee and management professor, said. “We’re trying to make sure everyone has a chance to provide feedback before we make it permanent.”

All of the changes to the course evaluations are targeted at how professors teach their classes today and updated to solicit more feedback from students. Many professors take note of their course evaluations and try to make improvements and changes to their classes because of it. Professors are looking for actual comments from their students and students are able to put in words any critiques they have for their teachers.

“I can speak for myself and some of my colleagues, we take feedback from our students seriously,” Rhee said. “We can help students learn more from the experience they have in the classroom. I welcome and solicit feedback throughout the semester and I try to make the courses better. Student feedback is a very important process.”

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Course evals important for professors