My evals this semester were not as good as I’d hoped.  The numbers are actually not too bad, but not as stellar as they were last year.  A few things bother me…

  1. Some outright lied about things I allegedly did or said, or provided no context within which to evaluate their comments.  No, anonymous, I did not change office hours.  They were always at the same time and day.  Thanks for trying.
  2. Most of the criticism I got was constructive, but there were three students in particular who just had it in for me.  They consistently gave me 1/5 ratings all across the board, and wrote a damn-near essay on “negative aspects of the course.”  Naturally, most of their complaints were at best half true, and none were constructive critiques.  Do you think they ever bothered to let me know their concerns through the many channels (including anonymous ones) I offered?
  3. Some people said they didn’t like having to go between the classroom and the computer lab.  How they planned to learn to use SPSS and do activities with it otherwise I’ll never know.
  4. The contradictory nature of the comments also bothers me.  Some said they enjoyed having in-class assignments to work through and said I was very helpful in and out of class. (I tried…)  Others said I didn’t give them anything to do in class and that I was a bitch who didn’t know my rear end from a hole in the ground.

I’m trying not to let it bother me too much, but I think that the way universities handle student evaluations should definitely change.  The anonymity and the timing (end of semester but before finals) seems to yield some awfully harsh and unconstructive remarks that really don’t do anyone any good.  I tried to be merciful in my evaluations of them (i.e., grades), but obviously they were not so generous.  It almost makes me wish that their treatment of me could somehow factor into their grades.  A couple would have surely failed by that measure.

At some point, I want to talk w/ my department head to see what he thinks of all of this, because I surely don’t want him to think I didn’t bust my tail to be the best I could, given the circumstances.  I was teaching a brand-new class to a group of people with widely different levels of ability and motivation who for the most part didn’t want to be there.  A couple comments suggested that it seemed like I was given no support or mentoring, and that was definitely true.  The class is tough enough for seasoned folks, but I wasn’t given a lot of very structured advice or resources, and that might have made a difference.    If there is a next time, I’m sure things will be better, but I’m really glad the semester is over at this point.