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The Northerner

Go beyond evals, take a stand!

Heather Willoughby and Heather Willoughby

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For the first time in your life, you feel inspired to log onto eval.nku.edu to complete your professor evaluations because one of your professors was a dud. Or perhaps your ethics professor was a genius and you can’t wait to let his or her department chair know how awesome the class was! You know what I’m talking about.

If your resolve wavers, you may be weighing the time it takes to perform the evaluation versus the impact your review will have.

I personally evaluate all of my professors because I think it is very important.
But sometimes even I wonder how much influence student evaluations actually hold.
The evaluations are very important and hold more influence than you might think, says Dr. Cady Short-Thompson, chair of the Communications Department.

‘I look over every single evaluation of every single course from tenured professors to non-tenured to graduate student teaching assistants.’

Within these evaluations, Short-Thompson said she notices trends for certain professors, and any marks below a 4 (on a 1-5 scale) indicate an area of weakness.’ Each year at their performance review, Short-Thompson said, she will call professors out on their negative scores, as well as praise them for their positive ones.

‘We have a phenomenal faculty,’ Short-Thompson said, ‘but every year we get some inappropriateness.”

When reviewing your professors, Short-Thompson said you need to ‘have the words.” Bad numbers do nothing if they don’t have the comments to explain them.’ One downside of the evaluations, she said, is that you have no way of knowing who said what – so, if a serious problem was indicated, there is no way to follow up and find out more details of the incident(s).

The evaluations are not the best place to air grievances – students should meet with the chair of the applicable department and tell them what is going on, according to Short-Thompson.

Or, if you are uncomfortable going to the chair, NKU offers an Ombuds Service Team.

Ombuds is a group of people on campus dedicated to solving sensitive issues.

This group ‘serves to help guide students through the University’s policies and procedures for resolving problems. The Team meets with students, hears their concerns and counsels them on how they should proceed,’ according to the University and Student Affairs Web site.

You can find an Ombuds Service Team member in the University Center, Room 364, or spot some help in the Lucas Administrative Center, Room 838.

So, while reviewing your professors is definitely important, sometimes you should not wait for that end-of-semester window to address your concerns with how, or with whom, you receive your education. Take a stand – you have a say in this, too.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Go beyond evals, take a stand!