Course evaluations: Who’s listening?

By Ryan Fitzgerald – Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Illustration by Amanda Bennett

The second semester is winding down and students will soon be getting repeated emails to fill out course evaluations. I appreciate the chance for us to voice our opinion on professors, and positives and negatives of the class structure. And I appreciate the reminders to fill them out. But are the evaluations really important to Lasell?

Faculty tell the student body that it’s important we fill out the evaluations. Some students do, some students don’t.

But who is reading these evaluations? Are they really put into consideration when reviewing what professors are teaching certain courses and how those classes are structured?

I’m going to give my honest opinion — there are some professors at Lasell that are teaching courses they shouldn’t be. This happens in all departments and I’m sure it happens a lot more colleges and universities than Lasell.

I’ve heard from several students that didn’t feel like they learned enough in core classes (in one case a capstone course) due to the professor being unable to teach the course effectively. This is unfortunate for those students because they have written course evaluations that stated their displeasure. But the next semester, the professor is teaching the same course to a new group of students.

In some cases, I have heard of professors being considered ‘under review’ due to poor course evaluations. Myself and the student body appreciates that.

I think the student opinion is the most important when it comes to this issue and hope it is respected. We ultimately pay to go here. We attend class each week with these professors and know whether our course experience was valuable or not. We know if the professor was effective or not.

Course evaluations also matter for professors who are teaching their courses effectively too. The professors who receive excellent evaluations semester after semester continue to teach the same classes, which is a positive. But are they rewarded in any way outside of that?

In sports, coaches earn extra rewards if they coach their team to the playoffs, conference championship or league championship, depending on the sport. It should work the same way for professors whose students are excelling.

I don’t think these evaluations are completely overlooked. And I do believe the majority of the faculty and staff at Lasell is doing a good job of educating the student body.

But I think it’s a question that needs to be raised. From where I stand as a senior ready to graduate, there are some professors who have received poor evaluations that continue to teach the same courses.

For future students’ sake, I hope these evaluations are taken more seriously and students don’t have to deal with the struggles of having a bad professor experience. If these evaluations are the students’ voice — shouldn’t everyone be listening?

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