Your Course Evaluations Matter

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Each semester, students are asked to complete both an early semester course evaluation and an end-of-class evaluation. It may seem like a hassle, but it means a lot—both to other students and to faculty.

Help other students.

Is there a change you’d like to see in the way a course is taught? Do you have advice for students who may take the course in the future? Completing course evaluations is a way to “pay it forward” and help students who will take that course in the future.

Computer Science instructor Dr. Charles Wallace explains: As an instructor, I’m not a huge fan of Canvas, so one semester I thought I’d be cool by avoiding it and using Google tools instead. But when I got back my evaluation results, many students said, “Uh, we actually like Canvas…” In particular, they said that it was confusing to have one class (mine) that didn’t use Canvas when their other classes did. I got the message, and now all my materials are available through Canvas.

Help shape the courses you take.

Is there something about a course that you really like? Do you have constructive feedback for faculty? Through the course evaluations, you let your instructors know what’s working—and what’s not—so that they can keep the things you love about a class and change the things that aren’t working.

Dr. Wallace shares another example: I teach a Monday/Wednesday course, and I started having optional recitation sessions on Fridays, where we’d just hang out and go over the homework problems for the coming week. I wasn’t sure whether it was worth it—did the students really like having even more time in class? When I got back the evaluations, the answer was a big “YES.” So now the Friday sessions are a regular part of the course.

Help recognize faculty who do a great job.

If you’re in a course where things seem to be running well, it may seem like a waste of time to fill out an evaluation. The instructor has it all figured out, so what’s the point?

But your evaluations matter to instructors. They want your feedback. For instance, faculty can be rewarded for high scores on course evaluations. They are the basis for the selection of university Distinguished Teaching Award candidates, which is a big honor for your instructors. They’re also an important part of faculty evaluations for tenure and promotion. By sharing what you like about your instructors, you’re doing them a favor and helping to recognize their outstanding teaching.

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