Points of View: Brutal honesty OK on Baylor course evaluation forms

By Kat Worrall
Staff writer

Your phone pings, announcing an email. With a glance, you see it’s from Baylor University, but no, it’s not the weekly “On the Horizon.” It’s worse — it’s your fifth course evaluation reminder this week.

With the conclusion of any semester, course evaluation requests fill your inbox, begging you to fill the evaluations out. Old-school professors used to hand them out at the end of class, condemning one student to return the manila folder to the Bill Daniel Student Center after class. How was the teaching style, what was your favorite part, any comments for the professor — this survey is the conclusion of your class.

That is, if you even fill them out. Personally, I send the email reminders into my trash and quickly scribble generic answers on paper evaluations.

“I liked the Jane Austen book.”

“Give more multiple choice tests.”

“I liked the lab when we went to the zoo.”

While the basic answers are easy and help us avoid taking the longest and having to return that folder, maybe Baylor’s professors could improve if students wrote down their honest thoughts.

I don’t mean, “I hate your stupid biology class,” or “You suck,” but rather got down to the serious issues.

After hearing a few stories from friends and looking back on my past three years at Baylor, I have decided what I wish students would tell their teachers.

“Do you even speak English?”

When I walked into my 8 a.m. Spanish class last year and discovered English was not my professor’s first, second or even third language, I knew I would be switching out as soon as possible. If I can’t understand your English, there is no way I will understand your Spanish.

This also goes out to seemingly every teaching assistant in the Baylor Sciences Building. World Oceans might not be difficult, but I am not ashamed of receiving a B when my TA required a translator.

“Calm down on the Baby Gap polos.”

Of the various appearance comments I have heard or thought myself, this is my favorite. While Baylor does have intelligent and helpful professors, they aren’t the most fashionable. Comb your hair, invest in something other than your lumberjack outfit of plaid shirts and khaki pants and please, trim the nose hair, elderly political science professor.

“Regardless of what you think, your class, which isn’t even for my major, was not my only class this semester.”

Nearly every student has had that one professor who believes his students are only enrolled in his three-hour class and tacks on project after project. They think way too highly of themselves and their class. Yes, half of the class failed the first test, but smugly retorting, “Welcome to college,” won’t help us.

While there are plenty of honest truths to scribble down — “Cell phone police? Really, theater appreciation?”— there are comments, un-academic as they may be, that are the true reason I have loved a class.

Professors that host a miniature Thanksgiving dinner for homesick freshmen, history teachers that bring muskets to class and give a demonstration, those who brings snacks to class — even though it breaks the rules — and of course any professor who cancels class on Fridays all receive high recommendations.

Science professors who turn around to a struggling class and say, “I love you guys. You can do this,” are a rare and cherished breed.

I will never forget one professor stoically crying after an emotional lecture on body image and eating disorders. It is professors like that who make the 8 a.m. classes, the nasally voices, the laptop-less class rules and lectures over Edgar Allen Poe all worth it. So, maybe this time around, we should write down our honest opinions.

“Show more slides of your dogs. That was the best part of class.”

“Stop making us turn around our baseball hats on test days. I swear no one wears a hat with the pretense of cheating.”

“The fact that you had seasonal courtside seats to all of the Lady Bear basketball games made your overly difficult class enjoyable.”

Maybe professors will take note of the good and the bad, but let’s be honest. Bubooks.com is all that matters anyway.

Kat Worrall is a junior journalism major from Roswell, New Mexico. She is a staff writer for The Lariat.