So, evaluations from last semester surfaced earlier this week. As I have said before, evaluations are an opportunity for students to take a pot-shot, and if not for the fact that they actually carry weight in the hiring process, I wouldn’t even bother worrying about them. Because basically, evaluations tell you how good you are at massaging the egos of a bunch of speshul snowflakes.
I must confess that I stooped to a bit of evaluation-pandering last semester, schedualling the evaluation for the class following a class I knew would go well, and during which I shamelessly gave out chocolate. As a result, my numbers were quite respectable (and don’t get me started on the statistical nonsense being perpetrated in our institution, which calls 4.0 out of 5 the acceptable average; grade inflation, anyone?). Do I feel dirty? Not to any extent that can’t be cured by a nice bath bomb.
Last semester’s students were embarrassingly reluctant to give additional comments, given that it was a writing class – oops! Perhaps because they were reasonably harmonious, and didn’t have any major complaints about things that are not in my control anyway – like the schedualling of the class, or the imposed common curriculum, the temperature of the room, or the odour of that one guy.
Written additional comments do tend to be educational; I think I learnt the most important thing about North American Snowflake culture from the student who commented that “when students give a wrong answer, she doesn’t even say ‘thank you for trying'”. Before that, I had no idea that my snowflakes were expecting to be thanked for their dumbassed utterances. Not that this comment caused me to change my behaviour, but it was an insight into just how incredibly narcissistic these products of self of steam edumacation really are.
This most recent evaluation had a little bit more WTF-ery with regard to student laziness. Of the few comments I received, most were positive, but there were two that had similar comments, clearly intended to be criticism. Are you ready? Apparently, I have a quite utterly unreasonable expectation that my students will pay attention and retain information. In other words, “she won’t repeat things if she thinks she has said them enough times for us to remember them, like more than 2 or 3 times.” Specifically, I am charged with only giving the instructions for the exam (which consisted of: “you will be writing 2 essays, one on a reading I will give you in advance, one on a ‘surprise’ topic based on class discussion”, so hardly rocket science) only 3 times in the hearing of one student, who thus, it is charged, “is not 100% confident I know what is required”.
Got all that? Because I am not going to repeat myself.