Evaluations: Does what you have to say matter?

May 6th, 2010

Senior Brienna Rabb watched as another student completed an instructor evaluation by circling all the same numbers for the multiple-choice section and skipping over the comment segment entirely.

At the end of every semester students are required to fill out a one to two page survey about their instructor’s teaching style, performance and overall effectiveness.

With no direct feedback, students are left wondering what happens to their critiques.

“[It] definitely gives students time to say things, but I don’t know if the department takes them seriously,” said sophomore Erin Riccaridi. “It would be nice to know if they are being taken seriously.”

Every department at John Carroll University implements a different style of evaluation. The effectiveness and results differ drastically from department to department, and in some cases, from instructor to instructor.

James Martin, associate dean of the Boler School of Business, assures that the evaluations are an important tool.

“Everyone in the school of business uses the same [evaluation] form. The quantitative section is then loaded into a large data file,” said Martin.

According to Martin, the school of business is constantly redesigning and altering their evaluation system to make it more effective.

“[The evaluations] are something we take very seriously,” said Martin.

In the Tim Russert Department of Communications instructors are allowed to create their own evaluation forms and while the department uses them as a means for professors to self-evaluate, there is no central office that reviews the information.

Karen Gygli, chair of the Tim Russert Department of Communications, thinks that the evaluations might not be the most effective tool.

“There is not one form, [and] although there is a suggested form, there is no central office to process them.”

Gygli said she glances over the evaluations. “If there was a general pattern over a period of time I would talk with students,” she said.

In both departments the evaluation forms are delivered by a student and not revealed to the instructor until grades have been recorded.

Both Gygli and Martin also said that they would look into a teacher that received poor ratings, but not based on just one review.

The importance of the evaluation form is based on student input and the department’s use of the responses.