Some University of Minnesota professors dislike evaluations

Published 2:50 pm Saturday, December 3, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS — University of Minnesota professors are supposed to use course evaluation results to see how they measure up to students’ needs, but some say the information isn’t useful.

Office of Measurement Services assistant director Stephanie Klein said professors give out the evaluations during the last week of class, and the results are sent to professors and department heads.

Some professors said the information is shallow and doesn’t have a significant impact on how a course is taught in the future.

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Carlson School of Management senior lecturer Rand Park said the evaluations’ impact is dampened when faculty don’t see them until after classes are completed for the semester.

“By that time I’m already preparing for the next semester and it’s sometimes a little too late,” he said, adding that he receives more information about his teaching style by directly speaking with students.

Some professors ask students to fill out mid-semester evaluations and use the feedback to adjust the course before the semester finishes.

Law professor Cosette Creamer said the evaluations are less for the professor and more for successive students to be able to accurately judge a course before taking it.

Klein said evaluations are also used by department heads to see which faculty members should be awarded promotions or tenure.

Statistics professor Gary Oehlert said the written comments are made to fit all departments, therefore not giving specific insight. Park agreed that the course evaluations are flawed, but thinks it’s good they can apply to all departments.

“More customized evaluations might not make it more applicable for cross-departmental information,” he said.

Some teachers also think the metric portion of the evaluation gives faculty very little information as to how they can improve the class.

“(Course evaluations) provide some information, but very limited information,” Oehlert said, adding that faculty takes them with a grain of salt.