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Re-evaluating Student Evaluations

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Recently there has been talk among administrators of changing the way student evaluations are handled. It seems not enough graduate students are taking the end-of-the-year paperwork seriously, so they are considering new ways of making the evaluations more convenient.

Susanne Doremus, the Graduate Division Chair, is responsible for reviewing graduate student evaluations. “We take them very seriously. If a faculty member has a number of questionable evaluations where students are not happy, we talk to that faculty member and it comes up when they are up for review. The category is called ‘teaching effectiveness.'”

Student evaluations help administrators during contract progression and faculty reviews. It takes several bad evaluations for an issue to be addressed with a faculty member.

“Usually graduate students don’t bother filling them out,” said Doremus. “There has been some talk of putting the evaluations on the internet.” This would make it more convenient for the students to put in their two cents.

Doremus believes that the student evaluations are not nearly as effective for grad students as for undergraduates. “Because it’s a smaller community and students talk to each other, ‘don’t work with so-and-so.’ Students just don’t register with teachers they wouldn’t get along with. Then if there is a problem with a faculty member, usually a grad student will talk to the chair of their department and then if we think it is important that they change advisors they change advisors. Sometimes it’s good to work with someone with a different philosophy than you.”

November 2004

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