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What Should You Do When Student Evaluations Are Wrong?

Posted by on Thursday, March 10, 2011 in News.

by Derek Bruff, Assistant Director

Over on the ProfHacker blog today, Vanderbilt PhD alumna Heather Whitney shares her recent experience discovering that students were saying things on her end-of-course feedback survey that were verifiably incorrect. Several students complained that they felt it unfair that they weren’t told how their final projects were going to be graded. However, Heather had shared with her students her grading rubric for those projects a month in advance, posting it to the course management system and announcing its availability in class.

Heather points out that it’s one thing for her students to say such things on the end-of-course feedback survey that she herself administers; it’s another for them to say such things on the official course evaluation forms. She asks, “What steps can a faculty member take to keep incorrect information from making it into evaluations in the first place? How can a faculty member address incorrect information?” How would you answer Heather?

Also, I see a connection here to our ongoing series exploring student expectations for teaching and learning. In fact, our next conversation in this series, Tuesday afternoon here at the CFT at 4:10 pm, will focus on student and faculty expectations for student and faculty responsibilities in a course. Some of Heather’s students didn’t know how they were going to be evaluated. Whose responsibility is that?

Update: Alan Jacobs has posted a thoughtful reply to Heather’s piece on his blog at the New Atlantis.

Image: “Wrong Way!“, Richard Elzey, Flickr (CC)

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