Happy New Year! As we all slowly make our way back from the holiday coma, I thought I‘d briefly speak about student evaluations, which I am assuming most of us receive at the end of each semester. There are varying schools of thought that speak to the necessity of these evaluations. I am staying out of this debate.
It‘s hard to separate yourself from these evaluations much – at least that‘s the case for me as an ECR. After all, if you care about how you teach and you put effort in it, then it is a personal thing – to a degree. But it should not be something we measure our entire self-worth by. During my graduate student days our Center for Teaching and Learning held a session on how to handle these evaluations.
In a neat tree branch model, you ought to separate the comments into useful/useless and then subsequently into positive/negative.
- Useful positive, i.e., “Sharing the slides before class aided my learning.”
- Useful negative, i.e., “The professor should have taken more time to review the readings that were assigned.”
- Useless positive, i.e., “The professor’s taste in music is impeccable.”
- Useless negative, i.e., “The professor’s car is a piece of garbage.”
Credit: Saundra Latham (2023)
This model allows me to categorize what I find helpful in improving as an educator vs. what I can discard. I don’t think any of us care about our students’ opinions about our cars. But if a learning tool worked or did not work, that then can impact the way I structure a similar class next time.
Hoping that others will find it useful! If you do, please help with my favorite comment I received this semester: “I wish the professor had office hours in a different office.”