“I don’t like history. I never will. But I liked this class.”
“You’re loud (in a good way).”
“Too much lecturing.”
“The homework was too hard. Took too much time.”
The above comments came from the student evaluations from my last year of teaching.
As I poured over the results and comments, I felt a sense of satisfaction. The complements reaffirmed why I entered teaching.
Their criticisms made me think. How could I improve my teaching? How can I become a better teacher? Not only did I find their criticisms legitimate, they indeed were areas of weakness. Most importantly their opinions shaped how I planned for the future (less lecturing, better homework assignments, relate the class to their lives).
On Monday’s #vachat, the question was asked, “Should students be involved in the evaluation of teachers?”
Unanimously respondents agreed that students should evaluate teachers.
Joe Posick @posickj
Students are in front of teacher more than we are so they see them at their best and worst.
Michael Craddock @mpcraddock
Why wouldn’t you ask students? Besides, the teacher, how many other people really know what goes on in the classroom day to day?
Student voice should be heard; it’s all about the way it is presented and worded.
Rob Donatelli @NL_MrD
Absolutely. They are our clients. Don’t we in bus. ask our customers to rate/review us?
Brian Kayser @bkayser11
Students definitely need to be involved, any teacher that says no already knows what their students will say, and it’s probably bad.
Of course, student evaluations should only be part of the whole picture. Critics of student evaluations claim that anonymous student evaluations enable students to settle personal grievances against teachers. While this indeed may be the case, the best teachers usually don’t make enemies. Most students respect their teachers and appreciate their efforts and commitment.
Critics also believe that knowing students will be evaluating them, teachers would inflate grades. From my own teaching experiences—I was known for being relatively difficult—I consistently earned excellent marks on classroom environment and personality. Even when asked, “Does the teacher grades fairly?” students responded favorably (although not as high as other questions).
The benefits of student evaluations of teachers far outweigh any potential problems. So much so, that teachers should constantly be seeking student input, not just at the end of the year. The best teachers constantly reflect on their performance. Student evaluations facilitate reflection by soliciting feedback. Feedback need not be formal, but can instead be done informally at the end of every class or every unit.
- How could I have done a better job?
- What did you find most difficult?
- What are you most confused about?
- As a teacher, what could I have done better today?
Seeking constant feedback sends a message to students that teachers value their opinions; that we are not above them. Seeking input opens teachers' eyes to strategies for improvement. Imagine how students would respond when they see their teachers making adjustments based on their feedback! Imagine how this would improve teaching and learning!