Section: Opinion

Editor’s Corner

While it’s unrealistic to expect students to spend a lot of time evaluating their professors during the finals crunch (especially given the College’s  flimsy excuse for a grace period), a multiple-choice worksheet seems contrary to the culture of constructive criticism that Kenyon is trying to foster. Only one of my professors this semester offered an additional question on the standard evaluation, and that professor was the only one to discuss the pedagogy of the class with us. While it’s positive that Kenyon solicits student feedback during the faculty- and tenure-review processes, this system’s effectiveness is limited due to the small sample of people asked to offer their thoughts.

There should be another way to incentivize faculty to get student input, which may galvanize students to take ownership of their education and become more engaged in academic culture. The question of whether colleges today are coddling their students has been at the forefront of higher-ed news recently. Perhaps improving the end-of-semester staff evaluation is one way (though it should certainly not be the only one) to raise students’ concerns in a productive manner that involves people at several different levels in the administration. Some may say if a student has genuine concerns with a professor’s methods, he or she should speak to the department chair. That solution implies a type of student empowerment and access to members of the administration that Kenyon does not frequently extend to its students. There should be a solution that intersects between the inadequate current system and a highly serious conversation in the department chair or provost’s office, and updating the end of semester survey is certainly a start.     

Gabrielle Healy ’18 is an English major from Fairhaven, Mass. Contact her at healyg@kenyon.edu

“This course challenged me beyond my previous ability: check strongly agree, agree, unsure, disagree, strongly disagree.” You have to admire course evaluations. They’re an opportunity to really tell your professor how much you love/hate them and what they can do to improve.

Or — they’re not. Nine multiple-choice questions about vague aspects of a professor’s performance is no way to provide useful feedback about how a course went. Kenyon, I strongly disagree with the way you conduct evaluations. Asking me to rate how satisfied I am based on the inadequate professor reviews Kenyon allows professors to send on to us. All it tells me is that professors have no intention of improving or changing the way they do things and if they can’t be bothered to do that, I can’t be bothered to evaluate them.

For once in my collegiate career, I’m not just complaining — I have a solution: Let’s get rid of the multiple-choice B.S. altogether. I could anonymously click a box that says I was dissatisfied with how the course went, or I could just write what I think. It’s not difficult to put a few blank boxes for questions about courses, and some professors do this — to them I say “thank you.” If professors did this it would tell me they actually care about my feedback. It’s incredibly frustrating when I have valid complaints about things that didn’t work and could use improvement, but am not allowed to tell professors this on course evaluations. Evaluations are meant for students to voice their opinions.

To those professors whose evaluations show only multiple-choice boxes, I sincerely hope you’re happy with me marking “unsure” on each question, because I’m unsure whether you really care about improving as a professor.

Griffin Burrough ’18 is an economics major from Summit, N.J. Contact him at burroughe@kenyon.edu.

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