Student evaluations of instruction are a thorn in the side of any instructor; it’s like, once a semester, they get to throw a free punch, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Of course, you get quite a few who only manage a swing and a miss: “this teacher were to tuogh on spelling and grammer,” but others do manage to connect, and it’s the ones that hit you in unexpected places that can really be disheartening. I don’t mind the random jabs at my meanness, or my dress sense, but the one who said, “do not mock people who are funnier than you,” really stung.
I know it’s not just me who has angst over evaluations; look at all the ink spent on navel-gazing. And what do we learn from all this scholarly research? That student opinions of their teachers are swayed by chocolate. Nice. That’s really going to make me roll philosophically with those punches. If chocolate is all it takes, why would anyone stress about good teaching? But no, I will take the high road.
I do get a chance to make my case; there’s a form I have to fill in that talks about my teaching in the classes that have student evaluations, where I get to complain about the heating system making a sound like a jet taking off, or the fact that the motion sensor attached to the lighting in the room was located too far away from the teacher’s desk, so that halfway through the class, all the lights would go out, and students would need to stand up and wave their arms to make them come back on. There’s a leetle tiny space on that form for comments about student behaviour; just enough room to write, “never have I seen such a group of egregious sloths – these reluctant slugs could not even get it together to read children’s picture books.”
But, let’s face it, this is not enough. The fact that this is not enough is the whole reason Rate Your Students exists, bless their tiny cotton student-loathing socks.
This semester, I am preparing an Instructor Evaluation of Students. Based loosely on my institution’s Student Evaluation, it will have 20 items for me to rate my students on a 5 point scale. Here are the items:
- The student shows interest (real or feigned) in the subject.
- The student demonstrates respect for the instructor and classmates.
- The student’s behaviour is not actively disruptive to the class.
- The student demonstrates an openness to new concepts.
- The student makes use of offered opportunities of assistance.
- The student’s personal hygiene is inoffensive.
- The student does not actively try to make the instructor’s life harder.
- The student makes a visible effort to learn (includes grunting).
- The student responds to instructor’s overtures to promote participation (i.e. will respond to a direct question if eye contact is made).
- The student comes to class.
- The student shows an understanding of the duration of the class (is on time, does not leave early).
- The student does assigned reading.
- The student attempts to meet deadlines.
- The student accepts responsibility for handing in his/her work on time.
- The student demonstrates an ability to follow simple directions.
- The student gives some priority to fitting this class into his/her life.
- The student is responsive to instructor requests and/or advice.
- The student shows an understanding of grading standards.
- This student shows an awareness of the existence of other individuals.
- I would recommend this student to others.
That way, I will have hard numbers at which to point and laugh. And I’ll post them here, so others can do the same. I have not decided yet whether to rate all my students, including those who drop the course (skews negatively), or only those who make it to the end of semester and receive a final grade (skews positively), but I have the whole semester to ponder. Suggestions welcome.