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Monday, December 26, 2011

If teachers got to evaluate students

You might be reading this and thinking, "But teachers do get to evaluate students.  It's called a grade."  Well, you're right, and you're not.  You see, teachers do get to evaluate their students' performance in class by giving them a grade, but we have to be able to justify this grade based (usually) on points and a grading scale.  I can't just say, "I feel this student is a C student," and slap a C on the report card.  It just doesn't work like that.  I have to be able to show test grades and final exam scores that support the grade I've assigned the student.

But, I'm talking about a different kind of evaluation - the kind all students are asked to fill out regarding their instructors at the end of the semester.  These evaluations ask important questions like, "Did your instructor explain the material clearly?  Was the grading system clearly explained to you?  How often did your instructor incorporate technology into the course?  Do you feel you will be able to apply the skills learned in this course to the real world?"  All answers are given by filling in a bubble on a scale from 1 - 5, where 1 means "No or never" and 5 usually means "Awesome!"

Now, I'm fine with those questions, even though I think students quickly bubble in answers without reading the questions just so they can leave early.  What I pay the most attention to, however, is the "Comments" section.  Before handing out evaluations, I tell my students that I actually read (and take into consideration) any helpful suggestions they might have.  And, once in blue moon I actually get one.

Usually, however, I get helpful comments like:
"You shouldn't assign homework."
Great idea!  You'll be completely prepared for your tests if you do absolutely no practice problems.  I mean, everyone knows that the best way to learn math is to just sit back, relax, and watch someone else do it.  Heck, I've watched Aaron Rogers all season, and I'm pretty sure the Green Bay Packers are going to draft me.

"You should offer way more extra credit."
Terrific idea!  But, you  know what's a better idea?  What if, just for the hell of it, you came to class?  Or, you could do your homework?  Or, I know this sounds crazy, but what if you studied for your test?  This way, you wouldn't need any extra credit because you might actually have a clue as to what you are doing.

But, my favorite comment of all time: "You should have a day where we all come to class dressed like our favorite number."
Um, I don't even know what to say to that. 

I imagine that, if in addition to giving a grade instructors also got to fill out an evaluation for each student, they might go something like this:

"Johnny got an A- in the course, but his attendance was horrible.  He only came on test days.  Although he passed all the tests, he never did any homework.  I think this might be due to the fact that he mentioned being drunk on the day he took his placement test and placed into Algebra even though he took Calculus in high school."

"Johnny failed this course because he only attended class five times the whole semester.  He didn't score above 50% on any of his tests.  He claims he had a hard time understanding how I explained things.  I told him that was odd since he never actually saw me explain anything."

"Johnny ended up with a C- in this course even though he could have done better.  Personal problems and attendance issues mostly contributed to his not reaching his potential.  Hopefully, his grandma will die fewer than three times next semester, and he'll be able to attend class more regularly."

"Johnny failed the course even though he attended class regularly.  He may have been more successful had he actually paid attention, taken notes, and asked questions rather than spending the entire class period playing with his cell phone."

While filling out these evaluations for every student would be a lot of work, I think it would provide students, administrators, and future employers with valuable information... but that's just me.


  1. You obviously are just making too much sense.

  2. "You should have a day where we all come to class dressed like our favorite number."


    This definitely makes sense...I always used to add in little things in the comment section, but I think you're right about kids just bubbling in whatever.


  3. Agreed. I think you should let them dress up as their favorite number AND offer more extra credit AFTER not assigning homework. Who do you think you are, anyway, huh? Their TEACHER? Pshhht. Get it together, lady.