The faculty has the ability to block anonymous course evaluations

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Illustrated by Ndidi Nwosu

By Maria Morkas 01/25/22 11:18 PM

Due to concerns that pandemic-induced circumstances were causing differences in course and instructor evaluation scores, the Provost’s Office allowed professors to refuse to show their evaluations to students, according to a E-mail sent by the office at the beginning of August last year. In that email, the Office also wrote that average assessment scores were slightly better in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, compared to previous semesters.

Faculty Senate Chairman Chris Johns-Krull said he suggested the opt-out idea to the provost after some oversight faculties recommended it to the Senate Executive Committee.

“There have been [an] ongoing concern on some level about how faculty teaching is assessed, but this particular discussion has been prompted by the pandemic and the shift to largely remote learning for many faculty,” said said Johns-Krull.



Economics professor James DeNicco said he chose to keep his ratings and comments public and visible to his students, but he knows of instances where faculty members have recently received substandard reviews.

“A lot of my colleagues that I know are amazing people, amazing teachers, [and they received] ratings [that] were tough and some of the comments are really hard to read,” DeNicco said. ” It is difficult to [attribute] this to something different than at the present time.

Johns-Krull said he thinks some instructor ratings have suffered specifically from COVID-19, even for instructors who are well known for being very good teachers.

“I think some instructors and some classes just don’t do as well as others in a remote environment, and that’s a big part of why [policy]said Johns-Krull.

Denise Maldonado, a junior at Lovett College, said she opposed the policy because she was afraid of being caught off guard when preparing for a notoriously difficult course.

“I feel like we should protect the ability to give anonymous comments and post them publicly; it creates a safe learning environment in which students can help their peers in later years,” Maldonado said.

DeNicco said he’s not sure course evaluations are always helpful.

“Some students take them seriously and give you constructive feedback; I think a lot about what [students are] writing is for other students to read, who are going to take your classes,” DeNicco said. “But what you find with these ratings is that they are really [inconsistent] – you make students really love or hate you.

Professor David Warren, who has also chosen to keep all of his assessments public, said harsh assessments have existed since before the pandemic.

“I’ve known faculty members who got bad or even outrageous reviews, and nine out of 10 times they got it wrong, because you can write anything you want because it’s anonymous,” Warren says. . “I’m not going to try to hide any comments students make about the class, but it would be best if they made them openly, with clarity, so everyone knows who the parties involved are.”

Anika Patel, a freshman at McMurtry College, said reading teacher and course evaluations helps her better structure her schedule and maximize her learning.

“Sometimes professors have different teaching styles that help different student learning styles,” Patel said. “Not being able to read teacher reviews really hurts people’s ability to choose a teacher who will help them the most.”

Ethan Goore, a freshman at Duncan College, said he always liked to see what previous students had to say about the class and the professor.

“If something someone wrote seems to dislike the professor personally and they’re trying to ‘attack’ it, then it’s pretty easy to spot,” Goore said. “It’s a common thing that happens, and it’s easy to say. Especially if they’re the only ones [comment] who says that.”

Maldonado said she appreciates honest feedback from her peers.

“It’s about cultivating a safe and supportive environment where peer feedback and constructive criticism are encouraged. And if you want that among the students, then it has to be there with the teachers as well,” Maldonado said.


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