EDITORIAL: Teacher evaluations could be much more effective

As the semester winds down, students are given the opportunity to turn the tables on their professors and give them a grade of their own in the form of course evaluations. Luckily for students, course evaluations are anonymous, so teachers can’t give them a bad review on ratemystudents.com or take a few points off their final exam grade if they disagree with the ratings or comments of a particular student.

But really, take the time to do them online if they’re not mandatorily handed out during class. Most professors really do appreciate constructive criticism, and if they’re doing their job correctly, will consider students’ comments and take them into account. A class may be in your rearview mirror, but remember, your input could make all the difference for a future student.

The problem is that students don’t know what kind of student evaluations teachers have received when registering for classes.

The website ratemyprofessors.com can be a helpful tool in determining whether or not to take a class with a particular professor. The reviews are usually brutally honest as they’re anonymous. Remember that anyone can post, though. Don’t discount a professor because of an illiterate, disgruntled review. Rather, consider only well thought out reviews that make valid and supported points. Some professors have only a few reviews, while others aren’t even listed on the website, so it’s not helpful in every case.

Be sure to ask around as well. Talk to your Buffalo State peers about the most positive or negative experiences they’ve had and remember the names of the professors they mention in relation to those accounts.

It would be extremely beneficial to students if course and teacher evaluations were made available to them. If any teachers are opposed to this idea, the proposition should be made that teachers can choose whether or not their evaluations are made public. This way, no one’s privacy is breached, and students will still know to be cautious of classes and professors without publicly posted evaluations.

We’d also like to see teacher evaluations given out more than once a semester during those rushed few minutes at the end of class. More frequent evaluations with more time allowed for thoughtful answers will produce better results.

We believe that professor and course evaluations are beneficial to both students and professors, but that more can still be done with them to make sure professors are being held to your standard.