Student Evaluations*

V. Gates, M. Roachcock, E. Kangaroo, and W.C. Gall

Institution for Heretical Psychics, Story Book University, East New Yorkshire

*Of teachers.


Most teachers complain about the uselessness of student evaluations. This isn't to imply that we're good teachers, just that the evaluations aren't helping as much as we'd like.

Here is some rebuttal. Some complaints listed aren't the most common ones (some of which are actually useful), but most are frequent enough to be easily recognizable. (Most complaints of this type are from freshmen, although some linger to graduates with less frequency.)

(paraphrased for humor)

    Subject matter

  1. "The instructor read from the text."
    The text was my lecture notes, distributed to allow the students to pay more attention, prepare questions in advance, & spend less time copying.

  2. "The instructor spent no time discussing xxx."
    I spent the 1st ½ of the lecture discussing xxx. Students who can't be bothered to show up to class on time are expected to find out what they missed. (Pretty easy considering item #1.)

  3. "The course material shouldn't be taught according to xxx, but according to yyy."
    If the student has enough familiarity with the course material to know the best way to teach it, then why take it?

  4. "The instructor didn't understand the material."
    Well, one of us didn't, anyhow.

    Teaching style

  5. "The instructor should teach the same way everybody else has always done."
    Right, that's always worked before, hasn't it?

  6. "The instructor didn't give solutions to the homework problems before they were due, but only worked out other problems."
    Hence the term "homework", as learned no later than high school.

  7. "The instructor didn't explain very well, just kept asking if there were any questions."
    & yet there were few questions. My mind-reading abilities are clearly inadequate.

  8. "The instructor should spend more time going over the problems students have."
    Which are what exactly? (See previous item.)

  9. "The instructor didn't really answer my questions."
    Students are allowed to ask follow-up questions, as implied by the "OK?" @ the end of my answers. (Apparently some students aren't very good @ answering questions either, @ least when it comes to those on the evaluation questionnaire.)

  10. "The instructor didn't answer enough questions."
    I answered all of them. Maybe what was meant was, "The students didn't ask enough questions."

  11. "There should be more discussion."
    Indeed. I'm tired of giving monologues. Any ideas on how to get students to talk?


  12. "The instructor did all problems with letters, & didn't use numbers, which made it hard to understand."
    Algebra is a prerequisite for the course. The 1st thing one learns in algebra is what a "variable" is.

  13. "The quizzes/exams were too hard, as seen from how low the scores were."
    Grading was on a curve. I guess numbers weren't easier to understand than letters after all.

  14. "The grading wasn't fair. A friend of mine who isn't as smart as I am got a higher score."
    Used to be a friend, anyway.

  15. "& I'm not just whining."
    Why would anyone think that?