Originally published Nov. 17, 2013

As Grand Valley State University’s Academic Senate works to improve methods for faculty evaluations, it’s important to note that there is inefficiency on both sides of surveys. Perhaps the questions and method of delivery need to become more uniform, but altering the evaluation, itself, will only solve half of the problems with professor assessments.

After all, there’s no point in fretting over evaluation measurements and standards if no results—or at least no accurate results—are collected in the end. And useable results won’t be collected until students begin to take the surveys seriously. And students won’t take them seriously until they know that departments take their answers seriously.

It’s often difficult to tell what good comes of submitting honest evaluations. Of course, no student expects immediate action to be taken, but when a professor is consistently said to be terrible over the course of a few years and evaluations presumably reflect the student consensus, such feedback should prompt dismissal.

The continued employment of famously bad professors has discouraged many students from taking the time to seriously critique their professors; surely nothing will come of the feedback.

To be fair, we’re sure the university has based some firing decisions on student evaluations. However, there is an outrageous number of bad instructors who have survived for too long at GVSU.

Administrators, if you want honest feedback, show us that you’re doing something with the information we’re providing. Otherwise, it’s not worth our time.

Now, students, here’s our earnest plea to you: take the time to critique your instructors.

Too many of you enjoy the art of ranting. You’ll talk and talk about how the instructor is incomprehensible, lazy, indifferent about your success. You’ll spend more time cursing the existence of the faculty member than studying for your exams (which, by the way, might be more of a factor in your poor grade than the professor’s lecturing style).

But too few of you will take the time to lodge official complaints that might actually result in change. A couple of student minutes could be the difference between keeping a terrible professor on track for tenure and letting him or her go.

We all know that there are certain professors who should simply find a new career path. For whatever reason, we leave the course $1,000 poorer and academically unfulfilled. Yet these professors remain in their departments year after year, wasting more and more tuition dollars and producing incompetent employees.

The poor teaching methods of these professors need to be brought to light. It’s not enough to post a bitter Facebook status or even a tirade on Ratemyprofessor.com. It’s the official documents that count. So take five minutes and spread the truth.


Original publication: http://www.lanthorn.com/article/2013/11/a-meta-critique