Student Union has taken a large step towards changing course evaluations. They passed a bill in the fall semester of 2015, which suggested that all course evaluations done for a professor’s class must be looked at by another faculty member to ensure that feedback is looked at and taken into consideration.
Cole Hassay, president of Student Union when the bill was passed said, “When a professor has a fellow colleague or peer look at the course evaluations, it allows the professor to improve, as well as making them accountable for making changes in their courses.” Student Union hopes that having course evaluations read by fellow colleagues will provide a chance to increase the quality of courses and give students a better education.
Faculty perspectives were also taken into consideration. Carrie Buchanan, a professor in the Communications department explains that, “The Communications department Chair always reads the evaluations.” In addition to course evaluations, the Communications department has evaluations in which another member of the faculty sits in on the classes being taught. They then provide feedback to the professor who was teaching. This feedback is for professors to take into account when it comes to improving the course material or teaching styles. Megan Wilson-Reitz, lecturer in the Theology and Religious Studies Department, said that her department also does evaluations where professors are observed and evaluated by fellow professors.
Wilson-Reitz also explained how she feels that there could be other changes made to the course evaluations to improve the quality of courses. “I think course evaluations would be much more effective if the questions provided were more in tune with the course material” Wilson-Reitz said. Wilson-Reitz states “Some of the feedback provided by students is not always useful, sometimes lined with unnecessary comments and feedback that does not pertain to the course.”
Buchanan also addresses how “some course evaluations don’t express true feedback needed to improve classes. There will always be course evaluations with proper feedback, and there will be course evaluations that are just angry students who did not receive the grade they wanted in the course.”
Wilson-Reitz also believes that there should be more quantitative course evaluations rather than qualitative course evaluations, because students can rank a course more honestly when there is a scale. The effectiveness of the bill will be seen after it goes into effect. Bills typically take about a semester to be enforced, so students as well as teachers can look forward to this new policy in the Fall of 2016.