Thursday, September 18, 2008

In Which I Whine about Teaching F2F

Or rather in which I whine about the fucked up comments that students can leave on evaluations. Oh yes, in the final stretch toward finishing the tenure crap I had to find a few sample evals. from the spring to include. May I just note that my numbers were the highest I've ever had, so it's not like I got any "negative" evaluations. And yet. You give me a score of 4 or 5 for "knowledge of material" and then complain that I'm trying to "sound smart" by using big words. Which is it, folks? Do I know my shit or am I trying to seem like I know my shit? I also love where in one breath they say that they've never learned more in a class and in the next they complain about the amount of work, because, you know, learning happens by magic - not by doing a bunch of work.

I know part of my irritation is that we are advised to include only the most glowing of the glowing samples of actual evaluations, so even one half-assed comment like the two above are perceived as "negative" and thus not presenting oneself most effectively. So even though I had near perfect eval scores, I nevertheless have to struggle to find one or two that are "perfect" in terms of the comments. (And they don't want evals with no comments, so that's not an option either.) This is annoying, time consuming, and a total waste of energy. But so anyway, let me just note for the record that I will never again look at my institutional course evals after I submit this fucked up binder. I'll do my own evaluation with my own questions, the answers to which would actually be useful to me, and I will just ignore the others. I think doing so will make me an infinitely happier teacher.

(Note: All of my teaching irritability and angst of the past day or two probably are a result of the one-two punch of the tenure application and PMS. I feel sorry for anybody who crosses my path between now and Monday. Really, I do.)


life_of_a_fool said...

I find the way you describe your university's use of course evaluations is even more frustrating and annoying to me than my departments use of them.

Belle said...

Add mine to the 'awful' mix. Ours have been deemed useless for formative or summative purposes and a waste of paper. Yet... we are required to do them all.

Hate. It.

Shane in Utah said...

My favorite comments from a course evaluation, both from the same form:

Strengths of the course: The professor gave incredibly helpful, thoughtful, and detailed suggestions for improving my papers.

Suggestions for improving the course: Hand papers back more quickly.