End-of-the-semester student evaluations more important to professors than to students

Towards the end of each semester, Georgia State students are encouraged by their professors and student instructors to complete the student evaluation forms in order to rate the performances of their educators. These anonymous surveys are provided through GoSOLAR on PAWS.

There are many students that question the legitimacy of their evaluations being recognized by administration and current educators at Georgia State and choose not to participate. However, these evaluations could have a larger impact on education and future classes than most students can see.

According to a report that was published in 2012 at Georgia State, “An Empirical Investigation of Student Evaluations of Instruction – The Relative Importance Factors,” written by Satish Nargundkar from the Department of Managerial Sciences and Milind Shrikhande from the Department of Finance at the Robinson College of Business, student evaluations play an essential role in providing feedback to instructors. It also provides administrators with a metric to measure instructor effectiveness.

Laura Bailey, a Spanish professor at Georgia State, said that every semester student evaluations are added to the educator’s files. Those evaluations remain on their files to be viewed later on at any educational facility at which they may be employed.

“Contrary to popular belief among the student body, the dean’s office analyzes the evaluations and holds certain standards that must be kept, which means that the evaluations are very important when it comes to professor’s jobs,” Bailey said.

Professor Bailey also noted that there can be positive and negative comments depending on the impression that the students leave with after the class has finished, and that the evaluations can either help or hurt the instructor when they search for jobs elsewhere.

“While evaluations can seem bothersome to students, they appear to be extremely important to instructors,” Meredith Parker, a freshman Spanish major, said.

The student also expressed her concern for bubble-in answer evaluation forms, due to the possibility that some students that might just fill in answers at random.

“I think that only the evaluations with in-depth comments and suggestions are beneficial for the educator to learn how they can improve or continue teaching the same way,” Meredith said.

Online evaluations provided by Georgia State ask current students to rate their professor’s characteristics as being very descriptive, not at all descriptive, or not applicable. Some descriptions to be rated by students include: “Gave assignments related to the goals of this course,” “was well prepared,” and “motivated me to learn.”

These online evaluations also provide students with the opportunity to add any constructive comments they wish to make about the instructor, evaluation form or the evaluation process.

However, depending on the individual student, some may feel as though they can’t be absolutely truthful about their opinions on the instructor, so they resort to websites such as Rate My Professor to take matters into their own hands.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, which claims to be the top source for news, information and jobs for college and university faculty members and administrators, published an article called “The Unnecessary Agony of Student Evaluation” in March 2013. The author, Spurgeon Thompson, compares and contrasts the secondary educational system in Europe to our university educational system in America.

“Student evaluations can be either the most painful or falsely ego-boosting things we faculty members read. Sadly they’re becoming more and more important as American Universities veer toward private-enterprise models of educational management,” Thompson said.

Thompson suggests that students are seen from a consumer point of view rather than as subjects needing training or enlightenment because of evaluation forms being directed on an online-based format.

“They have become either as bland as a cheerful status update, or as cruel as online bullying,” Spurgeon said.