Picture it: We pan over a full classroom, a man with a slightly too-tight plaid shirt and vile comb over is lecturing with the same tone and volume of a dull beeeeeeeep. If we watch the students, we see several completely passed out while others furiously scribble notes, attempting to keep up with information that may or may not be on any exams this teacher gives. The old guy up front is so dull he makes Ferris Bueller’s teacher look like Lady Gaga, but what can you do? The class is required and this guy is the only one who teaches it, whether the students like him or not.
But what if you, the student, got a say in that? It’s happening at Stanford, where students get to give their teachers a grade for a change. The university is using student evaluations to determine things like professor salaries and tenure.
And it’s about frakkin time! Teachers evaluate us every single day (or at least during midterms and finals) to determine our abilities – it only makes sense to let us do the same. After all, unlike the department heads, we are the ones that know them best. We’re interacting with them when we show up to class on a daily basis, sleeping through their deathly boring lectures, sitting in the libraries cursing them for their vile exams on things that we had NO IDEA would be on that test, writing papers that we know they’ll tear apart.
When it comes time for the administration to evaluate a professor, then, it’s obvious that they should come to us, the source, for the lowdown.
And allowing students to voice their opinions does more than just allow for a fairer pay scale; by giving students the right to evaluate their professors it forces teachers to change up their game to provide a better education. I mean, that’s what we’re here for, right? Why should we have to adapt to the weird professor who lectures about conspiracy theories for over an hour (in a science class) in a monotone that has the same effect as Tylenol PM just because he happens to be the only one teaching that required course? If students are able to speak up about that guy, maybe he’ll have to do something different (like keep us awake?) to stick around.
This is college; we’re supposed to be learning, not merely surviving.
Stanford is on the right track with this evaluation business and I just hope more schools will follow suit. Give the students a say in their own (crazily expensive) education? What a novel idea.