Teacher evaluations

Trout, Paul

and give too many books to read .... Lets try to cut back shall ...

...Students know the score...
...Expect standards to decline use of numerical forms to reward and punish faculty has led even more as part-timers play a greater role in undergrad- to a decline of rigor and standards, don't expect colleges and uate instruction...
...He didn't give cally the degree to which their instructors much leniency toward what we wrote or toward our "knew the material," " followed the syllabus, graded them grades...
...who do...
...If I weren't afraid of these teaching evaluations, I would of essays, by choosing fewer or less-difficult texts, by assigning have done it differently...
...He concluded that the administrative use of telling friends to take courses from adjuncts because they numerical evaluations had "more adverse than positive efhave to give out lots of A's to keep their jobs...
...dents themselves made on narrative eval- In Generation X Goes to College (1996), uations used in my department (sic Peter Sacks, a successful journalist who omitted throughout): "We were bom- took up teaching at a community college, barded with information about authors explained with harrowing honesty how that was boring with fact...
...Because good students-happy to get an easy A What could be wrong with asking students to help identify and to have more study time seldom give low numbers to who should be rewarded for teaching and who shouldn't...
...Then administrators will quite Mr...
...who gives a the threat of not being given tenure bedamn if we call it elegy or loss...
...It's hard enough to get through 1...
...he advised colleagues, "the less trouble you will have from Although others inside the academy also think that the students and administrators...
...On narrative forms, student resentment is often naked, more to dumb down college education than any other poli- easy to detect and evaluate...
...A few years ago fects on faculty instructional performance...
...The dynamic is brutally simple...
...Lets try to cut back shall we...
...I feel Examination Board and chological pressures of student evaluathat he, along with every other English we've all done rather well...
...The findings of this rarely discussed study provided a parents, legislators, and alumni alarmed that many of our warning that went unheeded...
...I watered it down...
...could cover TEACHER EVALUATIONS a little less information...
...fewer papers, by not requiring attendance, by having a lenient Andrei Toom, an adjunct math instructor from Russia, grading system-lowered standards without acknowledging confessed in a scholarly journal that when students com- it even to themselves...
...I also think 2 novels to read outside of class is a bit too much...
...do ho th lam...
...Six would be a more comfortable amount...
...Why can't negatively and to one extent or other-an instructor's ca- instructors earn high evaluation numbers by helping those reer from start to finish...
...Not "fairly," showed "concern," etc...
...universities to rid themselves of this deeply entrenched pracDo I exaggerate the negative effects...
...it is Although even tenured professors can unfair to drop someone's grade because "Sir, we've set up our own be influenced by the economic and psyhe/she missed too many days...
...Ryan found that 22 percent of college graduates seem to have attended Father Guido Sarinstructors admitted to reducing the amount of material cov- ducci s "five-minute university...
...The less you teach," education...
...tions, untenured instructors and adjuncts teacher, feels that his class is the only one who work on yearly contracts are the most Commonweal 10 April 21, 2000 vulnerable...
...made his course easier the next semester...
...of saying they are disaffected with and alienated from the edAlthough the weight given to the data varies across de- ucational process...
...I've never him to lower standards and workloads heard of them...
...an untenured faculty member in the sciences told me that Note that the percentages in Ryan's study represent inafter receiving low scores on his evaluations, he consciously structors who were aware of changing their teaching patterns...
...eight books per semester is too much to learn and Paul Trout retain...
...And because even a Plenty...
...And what a lot of versity of Virginia, "complied" with student demands for students want nowadays are stress-free classes, "under- "entertainment" and for a "comfortable, less challenging" standing" instructors, easy-to-get high grades, and unde- classroom," and "reaped the rewards" on evaluation day manding workloads-in essence, "education lite...
...The administrative use of these numerical evalua- few disengaged students-angry about a demanding worktion forms creates an incentive for instructors to do the wrong load-can have a disproportionate and devastating impact on thing: to please students instead of teaching them...
...ease down on exam grading...
...To earn high scores, instruc- Edmundson, a well-paid, tenured full professor at the Unitors must give students what they want...
...Instructors-fallible and in- With careers and raises often hanging in the balance, few centive-driven like everybody outside a Trappist monastery- instructors can afford to displease the growing number of try to get high scores on evaluations to compete for perks disengaged students making evaluation forms...
...crunch the numbers and use them-along with material To be fair, some students want challenging instructors about scholarship and service-to decide about instructors' and courses...
...it is really hard to come "to appease unmotivated, acutely passive to class when every day the material is students...
...E] ered (7 percent increased it), and almost 40 percent admitted to making courses and exams easier (9 percent said they made Paul Trout is a professor of English at Montana State University...
...partments and colleges, the numbers affect-positively or Okay, so a lot of students don't want to study...
...But how many others-by using multiple-choice tests instead I did...
...No wonder a later Carnegie Foundaplained about his high standards, he backed off: "I could tion study (1985) found that 67 percent of professors reportnot afford to care about my students because I had to care ed "a widespread lowering of standards in American higher about my safety from their complaints...
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...If uncovered of how a mandatory numerical-evaluation pro- this Trojan horse is ever to be dismantled, the hammering gram affected the rigor of classroom instruction on one cam- must be done by those outside the academy-by taxpayers, pus...
...I once heard a student them harder...
...Harper's, September 1997...
...the instructor needs to lower her Some numbers don't add up standards...
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...she should have more concern for When the spring term ends, college students her students, their stress levels, and their GPA's...
...Are these cause of low evaluation numbers induced terms used elsewhere in lit...
...According to the anpay raises, retention, tenure, and promotion...
...this throughout the country will fill out teaching- course helped and I got a lot out of it but I feel that the proevaluation forms on which they rate numeri- fessors expectations of us were too high...
...maybe fewer books or smaller books would be better...
...instructors who dumb-down courses...
...ity is camouflaged by ostensibly "objective" numbers...
...On and on, course after course, year after year...
...Jesus invited his disciples to serve the Gospel...
...The use of evaluation scores simply by giving an instructor zero on each such evaluations to reward and punish instructors is doing item...
...being shoved down your throat...
...But more and more do not...
...But on numerical forms, hostilcy or practice on campus...
...Back tice voluntarily...
...Holland's Opus, is it...
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...I don't think so...
...If he succumbed, what sort of This may sound like "student-bashing," resistance can be expected from those tryso let me quote a few comments that stu- ing to reach $50,000 before retiring...
...Yes, there are other, less-noxious ways to in 1980, James Ryan ("Student Evaluation: The Faculty Re- assess and improve the quality of classroom instruction, but sponds," Research in Higher Education) did the only study I've too many campus interests are invested in the status quo...
...On a growing nual survey conducted at UCLA by the Higher Education number of campuses, these forms are the only method used Research Institute, 40 percent of those entering college each to evaluate teaching-with some departments boiling the year are "disengaged" from academic pursuits, a polite way whole thing down to the "Overall Effectiveness" number...
...Even Mark such as a decent raise in pay...

Vol. 127 • April 2000 • No. 8


 
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