The University is a phenomenal academic institution, but at the end of the day, it’s a business. Every business has aspects they want their consumers to focus on, but there are others that need more attention and transparency. The University needs to be transparent about the performance of their instructors.
At the end of each semester, students are reminded to fill out a course evaluation. The University says this information is used to improve the overall quality of their courses, yet how do we know the University is using the information effectively?
When students fill out the course evaluation, they never see it again. These course evaluations are kept from public consumption. This does not necessarily equate to the University trying to hide something, but withholding these records can do more harm than good. In fact, releasing these records could help the University stand out.
When a student wants to get a feel of what a professor is going to be like, one of the best places to go is RateMyProfessors.com. Although this website is the most popular option for professor reviews, it’s hard to tell how much stock you should put in them.
The questions the website asks are basic at best and are not as detailed as the questions the University asks. Filling out a course evaluation takes much longer because it focuses on varied parts of the class. Students having the ability to see what other students said about a course or its instructor would change everything.
Not only would this benefit students, it would do the same for professors. Part of what makes business better is competition. Everyone should be constantly trying to find ways to improve. I am not implying this is the case for all the University’s instructors, but there are some that clearly need a little motivation. Given how detailed the course evaluations are, the results should mean a lot to professors who want to improve. Having the evaluations made public would at least light a fire under them.
From the viewpoint of a professor, it is understandable to see why they would not like this idea. Most people do not like having added pressure. However, most professors and students probably have more on their plate than they would like.
Throughout high school and college, I have been told that teachers are supposed to do 20 percent of the work and students are to do 80 percent. Students have always been expected to do well in class regardless of a teacher’s performance. Students don’t get a note on their transcript saying they failed because their professor was not good at their job.
Overall, the University provides an amazing college experience for its students. Allowing students to see the course evaluations would only make things better.
The possibilities that could spur from students seeing the evaluations are endless. Maybe this can open the door to asking questions students care the most about. Maybe this can show professors different ways to more effectively instruct their students. This would be a bold move, but no institution became great by trying to be like everyone else.
Donald Fountain is a 21-year-old mass communication sophomore from Saint Francisville, Louisiana.