"How I Read My Student Evaluations"
Center of Teaching Excellence
University of Virginia
First paragraph: Student evaluations are a curious metric for assessing one’s teaching effectiveness. They can contain valuable insight into the successes and failures of a course and the strengths and weaknesses of the instructor. However, as with any information, its value depends upon appropriate interpretation. Because student learning (and by proxy teacher performance) can often seem hard to quantify, it is tempting to evaluate one’s own progress by simply tracking the cold hard numbers of students’ evaluations without carefully interpreting the context in which they take place. Doing so would ignore the subtle dimensions that inform students’ responses on evaluations. The students’ state of mind, their assessment of their own learning, and the emotional power of evaluations all contribute to make the process of interpretation a difficult one for any instructor. Despite these complications, student evaluations can be a powerful tool for improving teaching.
Cedar Riener, Associate Professor of Psychology at Randolph-Macon College
Center for Teaching and Learning
University of Washington
First paragraph: Student ratings and comments provide one source of data for review and promotion committees: The student perspective at a particular moment in time, at the end of the course. While students don’t know at this point how they’ll use what they learned or how they’ll view the course after they’ve graduated, course evaluation data are still useful, because students are experts in evaluating their experience and perceptions as learners. It is important also to provide a means for students to have a voice and for faculty to remain accountable to their students.
"Putting Student Evaluations into Perspective"
Eileen Hoenigman Meyer
November 1, 2018
First two paragraphs: Submitting to a professional performance evaluation is humbling. Our livelihoods are the cornerstone of our security and our sense of ourselves. Our feelings about the work we do run deep.
A historically favored tool, instructor evaluations submitted by students, can be enlightening and helpful to educators. These devices only offer one vantage point, though, and it's problematic if they are used as a singular measure of educators' performance.
Eileen Hoenigman Meyer is a freelance writer focusing on topics such as job searching, work, family life, writing, and raising children