Shorter evaluations crucial to accuracy
3 mins read

Shorter evaluations crucial to accuracy

It’s the last week of scheduled classes, students file in and the professor systematically hands out the sheet with listed questions followed by a Scantron. The box of No. 2 pencil sits alone on a table in the front of the room.

The professor exits the room, leaving the students to fill out the 40 question evaluation form. Now, there are two types of students in the room. The first take their time and fill out the form honestly, giving grades ranging from 1-5 based on the professor’s ability to meet university standards and class’ ability to fulfill curriculum. The other half are flying through the forms, filling in bubbles at random, or giving all 1’s or 5’s.

This misuse of professor evaluations not only damages the purpose they originally were designed to do, but they take the power out of the students’ hands.

So, when the possibility of shortening the professor evaluation arises amongst faculty at the University of South Dakota, that opportunity needs to be jumped on.

By shortening the professor evaluations,  the assumption could be made that a shorter evaluations would result in a more shallow, less thorough  analysis of the professor’s performance. However, the question then needs to be asked, if the long form evaluations are already being shoved off by an decent percentage of students, the results are already being skewed.

While there is no way to determine what percentage of USD students fill out their professor evaluations honestly, it’s safe to say not all 10,000 undergrads fill out all 40 plus questions accurately. This could be for several reasons, each of them solvable by losing the long format evaluations for the shorter format. Some students don’t see the value in filling out professor evaluations, not aware of what the information is utilized for. The long format can also cause fatigue, the 40 plus questions get tiring and some begin to lose focus.

The shorter format would not only help solve these problems, but it would save valuable class time. Taking 15-20 minutes out of class time can be excessive, time that becomes more valuable that later in the semester. Cutting the survey down to 10 questions would free up some of that lost class time.

The other side of the argument vouches that the shorter format will not allow administrators to properly analyze professor performance, but what is the use of a 40 questions form that does not paint the right picture?

As the USD faculty senate makes its final decision on whether or not amend evaluation format, they will be looking to these points, and what is best for students, professors and entire university is to make the change necessary.

Editorial Cartoon (Rebecca Kroeger/The Volante)