Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Student Evaluations: Feared, Loathed, and Not Going Anywhere

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 19th, 2015




Janet Wilson has a number burned into her mind: 4.7. That’s the average student-evaluation score, on a five-point scale, that she has to reach to feel safe. Her score helps to determine her fate as a full-time, non-tenure-track professor at her West Coast research university.
“Everybody in my department is obsessed,” says Ms. Wilson, a teacher in the humanities for more than a decade. (This is not her real name: Fearing career repercussions, she asked that a pseudonym be used.) “We talk about how we get into that 4.7-and-above range. We talk about that more than about how to teach.”
Often, rather than discuss challenges in the classroom, Ms. Wilson and her colleagues pass around advice on what it takes to reach the magic number. One popular strategy is to bake cookies or brownies for students. (Chocolate-chip cookies are seen as the golden ticket. And if you’re making brownies, leave the nuts out: A student’s allergy could tank your score or, worse, lead to a phone call from Human Resources.)

Janet Wilson has a number burned into her mind: 4.7. That’s the average student-evaluation score, on a five-point scale, that she has to reach to feel safe. Her score helps to determine her fate as a full-time, non-tenure-track professor at her West Coast research university.
“Everybody in my department is obsessed,” says Ms. Wilson, a teacher in the humanities for more than a decade. (This is not her real name: Fearing career repercussions, she asked that a pseudonym be used.) “We talk about how we get into that 4.7-and-above range. We talk about that more than about how to teach.”
Often, rather than discuss challenges in the classroom, Ms. Wilson and her colleagues pass around advice on what it takes to reach the magic number. One popular strategy is to bake cookies or brownies for students. (Chocolate-chip cookies are seen as the golden ticket. And if you’re making brownies, leave the nuts out: A student’s allergy could tank your score or, worse, lead to a phone call from Human Resources.)
- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1011-student-evaluations-feared-loathed-and-not-going-anywhere#sthash.pdu4lZ8R.dpuf

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