PRATIE PLACE

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Get Yer Student Evaluations Here...

I don't have a dog in this fight, but many of my academic friends agonize over the written evaluations students make at the end of every class. Lately there has been some generous sharing of exceptionally stupid and/or cruel student comments, sent by amused and/or bitter profs, at bitch phd, scrivenings, and tall, dark and mysterious. If you have more to send along, I'll add them. Misery loves company.
  • "She favors smart students over the regular students which is bias."

  • "She expects us to be too mature"

  • "She expects us to actually be interested in the course material on our own"

  • "By requiring us to post on WebCT before class, she forced us to do the reading ahead of time, which is very difficult and unfair for students with other obligations"

  • Prof tells students she will give a new poem on the exam and ask for reflections. "One student raised his hand and said, "But that's not fair. ... Students who are better at understanding the poem and writing about it are going to do better."

  • "She expects us to read to [sic] much"

  • "This was supposed to be a class on great Victorian literature, but half the writers were women."

  • "She should have given quizzes if she wanted us to read the material."

  • "He shouldn't ask us questions on exams unless he _knows_ we know the answer to them."

  • "He gives me assignments that don't conform to the student handbook regulations"

  • "I do all the talking, he just asks me questions. I am paying for the lectures!!!"

  • "some of the questions on the test are different from the ones you gave on the homework, and that’s not fair."

  • A student reports that at the beginning of every history course someone asks: "'Will we have to write in this class?' To which the answer would invariably be: 'Yes [you nimwit].' To which the retort would invariably come: 'But what if we are math and science majors?' After which, stunned silence."

Scribbling Woman had a couple more good ones:
  • "She dresses really wierd.
    And she takes the reading too seriously. They're just books."

  • "I wish he would change his sweater." (One of Joe's students)

From Mountebank:
  • "I believe I would have enjoyed the readings more if they were written in Turkish."

A good idea

In the comment section of bitch phd, Rana of Frogs and Ravens recommends that on the first day of class students write essays on what they think the class will be about and what they hope to learn. The teacher collects the essays and then returns them to the students a week before the end of class; they then write brief papers on how their understanding of the course has changed, if it has, and on what they have learned in class, including specific examples. This should enable them to write more measured evaluations.

Update: at Learning Curves, the "Jedi Mind Trick:
[A cute grad student looking ahead to student evaluations] will say, in class, things like: "I'm explaining this very clearly." He does this all semester, for all the questions on the evaluation form.

Pharyngula responds:
I should try this. I'll stand in front of the class, look at them all, and with a wave of my hand say, "You understand how to analyze a triple-point cross now" and "Your chairs are very comfortable." This is a pretty smart class, unfortunately, and I'm afraid they'll just intone back, "We are all 'A' students."


Also see Advice from Ms Mentor and Mr Trout.

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6 Comments:

At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Moebius Stripper said...

Last month I wrote about a student who asked me, in all seriousness, "To what extent will we have to use equations in this class?" It was a statistics class.

 
At 1:21 PM, Anonymous librariangush said...

Ha ha! Thanks for the laughs. I had to give you a post on my blog for this one.

The frightening thing is these people are serious when they say things like this!!!

Cheers!

 
At 1:59 PM, Blogger coturnix said...

Hey, there was a great thread on Pharyngula last week, and I chimed in here:

http://sciencepolitics.blogspot.com/2005/03/student-evaluations.html

 
At 11:34 PM, Blogger Scrivener said...

The suggestion about writing an essay first day of class about what to expect and then revisiting it was made by Rana from Frogs & Ravens in the comments thread of Dr. Bitch's post.

 
At 11:38 PM, Blogger bitchphd said...

Heh, I was just checking in to say what scrivener said. Thanks for collecting the various evaluation fun from all over!

 
At 12:15 PM, Blogger Moebius Stripper said...

Ooh, I think I got the best student comment ever:

ABSOLUTELY HORRABLE. Doesnt teach. Gives us test questions that she NEVER TOLD US HOW TO DO. Does not tell us what will be on the tests, expects us to study everything.

In my opinion she is acedemicly unqualafied.


That'll learn me.

 

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