As the semester draws to a close, it is once again time to fill out course evaluations. It is, after all, nearly impossible to forget this fact given the barrage of almost daily emails students receive from registrar offices reminding them to fill out the online evaluations. Unsatisfied with one, or even two, emails, a student enrolled in Core, Barnard, and Arts and Sciences classes has received at least 10 emails urging him or her to fill out course evaluations in only a week.
It is regrettable that the administration is incessantly reminding students of evaluations during what is arguably the busiest time of the semester. Butler is overflowing with students working on final papers and getting a jump-start on studying before reading week. It seems unfair to ask students to take time away from their schoolwork during this period to fill out evaluations. Instructors would certainly receive more complete and developed reviews if they waited until students complete their work.
In addition, the evaluations close prior to the end of finals week. While it is understandable that the administration wants the unbiased views of students prior to receiving final grades, final exams and the subsequent grading are essential aspects of the entire course. In some courses, students perspectives on the course may wholly shift based on their experiences with a final paper due after course evaluations are past due. Course evaluations are meant to assess the student's entire experience in a class, and this experience concludes only when term ends.
Moreover, students will be truly inspired to fill out these assessments only when they are useful to students themselves. Last spring, we saw the University Senate encourage schools to publish course evaluations so that students can make more informed choices about their education, but we have yet to see any real action on this front. Until we see the results of these surveys and are able to benefit from the experiences of other students, there are few incentives to encourage participation.
As the debate last spring indicated, the University needs to seriously reconsider both the implementation and use of course evaluations. These assessments could be a meaningful exchange of ideas between students and instructors, but instead they are rushed, secretive, annoying, and, to make matters worse, they don't even work in Chrome.
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