By Mallory Harris | Staff Writer
We are at that point once again in the semester when course evaluations are handed out and motivated by extra credit. As this season is typically full of students angry about low grades or ill-prepared professors or even dislike of how a course was taught, it’s important to remember the setting in which we are holding classes. The extra pressure presented by the pandemic can cause many students to place blame on professors when in reality we are all going through hard times.
When COVID-19 disrupted classes, it not only took a toll on students but professors as well. Figuring out how to teach 30-plus students in an online environment, knowing full well the amount of learning that will transpire is less than desirable, is a difficult task. Moving into this academic year of learning how to accommodate in-person, online and hybrid classes means a few missteps are inevitable. It’s crucial to see and understand that students aren’t the only population affected by the pandemic on a college campus.
While it’s clear that professors aren’t perfect people, it’s just as important to be reasonable when filling out course evaluations. Of course, if a professor never made the effort to hold office hours or allow questions in class, call attention to that in the evaluation as those actions can hinder a student’s ability to fully understand the course. On the other hand, if a professor held discussions over class text and explained multiple points and a student still has trouble following, make note that a professor can’t tell if a student struggles unless they say so. Keep rhyme and reason in mind and not heightened emotions during this season.
Not only do these evaluations allow professors to learn, but they also play a factor in their place here at Baylor. While all professors are encouraged to participate in evaluations, all tenured faculty are expected to have outcomes in the fall every three years. Even faculty members who are on track for tenure must follow certain guidelines when it comes to evaluations. With the end goal to improve instruction, course evaluations hold more power than just a rant session.
I’ve had my fair share of professors whose teaching style didn’t mesh well with my learning style, but even though it made me work harder to understand the concepts of the class, it wasn’t a problem that could be fixed with a bad course evaluation. When reflecting on our semester and all the ups and downs that came with it, bring attention to the positive and negative things that happened in the classroom. Note the thought-provoking conversations as well as the lack of feedback when turning in 500-word assignments.
Remember, you’re evaluating a course and its overall instruction, not your professors. Remember that we are all learning and adapting in a global pandemic. Course evaluations are out and due by April 30. Even though many professors allow extra credit or some help for completing course evaluations, remember that they hold more power than just a few points.