Grading goes both ways

As the end of the semester approaches, professors are getting ready to send out their course evaluations. Often these surveys detail how the professor taught, their availability with students and if the coursework was manageable. While it’s not required for students to fill these sheets out, it’s helpful for teachers to receive feedback.

However, these questions are given to students at the end of the semester. When students are signing up for classes, there is anxiety over selecting a professor that pairs well with the student’s study style. Websites like ratemyprofessors.com have become popular over the last few years in helping students select which professor to pick when choosing classes.

The popular website allows students to rate their professor on a scale of one to five about how difficult the class is, if the course is mandatory for a major and if students would take the class again. Students are able to put professors into sub-categories to let others know if professors are hard graders, if they assign lots of reading and if classes are lecture heavy. 

The juiciest content comes from allowing students to critique their professor in their own words. Here, students can reference specific events, assignments and topics the professor discussed along with how they interacted with the class. These reviews are typically what students take into consideration.

Certain students can click and select buttons for the questions that professors have tailored, but more often than not follow the university’s guidelines as to what to include in the evaluation. Hearing from other students as to what the professor did or didn’t do can help direct students in choosing what professor would be the best for them. 

It’s important to note that these ratings should be taken with a grain of salt. Students could easily give their professor a poor rating due to a missed assignment or if the student failed to show up for class each day. For those who have reviews that clearly skew positive or negative, it’s obvious what choice to make. It’s difficult when mixed reviews can crop up as well, combining those who enjoyed the professor and those who didn’t. In this case, it’s all up to the student if they should go with the professor or not. 

Professors should take these reviews into consideration along with the evaluations they send out. Students may not feel comfortable addressing the professor directly and this ensures that the professor gets as many perspectives as they can to better teach future courses.

No matter how students choose to give feedback to professors, it’s important to let professors know what they can improve on to help better the university as a whole.

Header photo: Professors grade students’ performances in class, but students should grade theirs as well. (Flickr photo)

Write to Emma Johnson at emma.johnson.5@mnsu.edu

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