By Shi Davidi
Ryerson’s course evaluations are a farce.
This twice-a-year exercise is meaningless and provides no useful feedback.
The questions on the evaluation are relevant, however, their major fault is they do not require students to qualify their answers.
Students are to strongly agree, somewhat agree, have no opinion, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with the questions.
For example, what help is it to professors if 60 per cent of students somewhat disagree that material in the course if presented in an organized manner. What did 40 per cent of students like? Professors never get any real evaluation to work with.
All this could be rectified with one simple addition to each question — why, how or what?
If you believe the workload in a course is too heavy, explain why. If you believe a professor deals unfairly with students, explain how.
Conversely, let’s give students the chance to describe what makes a course work well and what makes professors effective.
With real and meaningful data, administration could provide a framework from which departments can implement changes. Professors would find out what students thought worked and didn’t work.
Of course this will never happen. After all, course evaluations were never about students.
They’re about contracts.
The evaluations are a collectively bargained organism, reached as a compromise between school administration and the teacher’s union during contract negotiations. This is the most effective evaluation the two sides can agree on.
Administration will tell you the two in-class evaluations professors face from other profs effectively measure performance. Two visits a semester from a professor can never provide the same type of insight into a professor’s effectiveness a student taking the course can.
The fact we never get to see the results of the evaluations we fill out only underscores how little administration cares what we think.
It’s time we asked our professors and administration to do the right thing and give us a meaningful way to evaluate performance.
Until they do, I will spoil each evaluation handed to me, writing “I refuse to participate in this farce” in big bold letters across the scantron sheets.