[Air-l] Evaluation Logs

Christian Nelson cnelson at comm.umass.edu
Tue Jun 3 06:45:49 PDT 2003

Regarding teacher evaluation web sites, EGodard wrote:

> Given relatively small numbers of evaluators per professor evaluated, I would
> presume there to be negative bias. Interestingly, however, the FAQ for that
> site in particular claims 60% positive ratings.

You have to remember that the evaluations on these sites are anonymous, anyone
can set up a hotmail, yahoo, etc. account without providing their real name, and
the site owners have no way of checking a contributors name against any course
rosters. Thus, the unexpected postive skew might simply be due to enterprising
professors rather than students. Further, a high number of negative ratings may
well be due to one very disgruntled student writing in from a number of
anonymous email accounts.

To answer your first question, then--what do you think about teaching evaluation
web sites?--my response is that they are completely unreliable. Their only value
is as indicators of the low regard in which professors are now held--what other
professional group is broadly subjected to evaluation by people who generally
have no conception of what good practice is? What other group would people
presume to rate on the internet despite the obvious impossibility of doing so in
a fair manner?

--Christian Nelson

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