While I was working at Florida Polytechnic, I got interested in the way professors are evaluated. Having seen first hand, the devastating results of no evaluations at all in Greece I am convinced that some sort of evaluation and self improvement should be in place, especially for our profession, since everybody agrees that is not just the content, but also the delivery that influences learning.
Since this is my blog, I can brag a bit about my evaluations, either the official ones from the students each year that are well above the department and college average and the ratemyprofessor’s one. And that is just it!. I don’t believe that these scores are very useful. Besides showing that I am funny, approachable and probably good to interact with THEY DON’T REVEAL ANYTHING about things that matter like:
- What proportion of the material does the average student retain in following classes?
- How deep of an understanding does the average student attain after one of my courses?
- How easy it is for the student to apply the knowledge obtained in a class of mine to real life problems or his major in general?
- Did the average grade level go up as a result of a deeper understanding or are other factors in play?
Let’s face it, student evaluations lack the maturity to test important factors. They are most certainly a good measure for the general ability of a professor, but they should not be tied up with his/hers promotion, general status in the department etc.
In the following article, I present a study we did while trying to write an educational paper about the impact of my modules class to students learning. The idea was to see if we can tie the results of a modified class with some indices, the student evaluations mean being one. Yet the more we looked into it the more we found that this index is not correlated with the 4 points we were really interested in improving.