Tuesday, November 20, 2007

clever little creatures

The office normally waits until the final week of term to give out teacher evaluation forms to the students, but I saw that they had given those forms out today. Sneaky, sneaky. I saw, too, that the eval form had been changed ever so slightly; this may have been partly at my behest because I had complained about one point in particular: the final criterion on the eval form, #5, has traditionally said, "Overall, the course was satisfactory." This criterion has been replaced by another; I never liked the original #5, and I'm glad it's gone.

As I've noted before, my ratings have consistently been over 90% by a substantial margin, so I'm not motivated by resentment or petty spite when I complain about the eval form. But it always bugged me, in previous semesters, when I saw that a student had given me the maximum points for Criteria #1-4, then dropped me down a point for Criterion #5 (as happened on a few occasions). I told the office that, for all intents and purposes, the students' overall feelings about the course should really be the average of the scores they give me for specific points about my teaching. It seems odd for a student to drop me down a point in the "overall" category after giving me full marks in all the specific categories.

This indicates that, in the context of the eval form, Question #5 is a bad question because it can be interpreted in too many different ways. "Overall" is a fuzzy enough general concept; when juxtaposed with slightly more specific concepts (such as teacher punctuality, thoroughness in preparation, etc.), the fuzziness only increases. If "overall" doesn't mean "the point average of all the previous specific criteria," then what exactly does it mean?

I hadn't expected the eval form revisions to appear this semester, to be honest; I had told my immediate supervisor that I wanted to discuss major changes to the eval form with her. Apparently, she went ahead and made some changes, anyway, and then decided to distribute the forms a week earlier than normal. Ah, well.


1 comment:

R said...

Don't ask why, Kevin; You're in Korea.