Art by Vivian Hsia
Transparency Item: The Perspectives section of the Graphic is comprised of articles based on opinion. This is the opinion and perspective of the writer.
Student evaluations of courses are a worthwhile use of time. They have clear benefits for personal reflection, professors’ teaching development, future student satisfaction and the Pepperdine community.
“Course evaluations are imperative to maintaining Pepperdine’s atmosphere of closeness and open dialogue between teachers and students,” first-year Thalia Markowski wrote in a Jan. 21 email to the Graphic. “When we are able to express grievances and appreciations for professors’ pedagogy, it helps them shape their teaching while helping us reflect on our classes and further understand our preferred methods of learning.”
These evaluations are useful in giving professors feedback on their teaching and course designs, which improves instructional quality at Pepperdine. By adjusting their teaching approaches and class content after student feedback, the evaluations help professors become better instructors and improve their future courses.
They provide student insights about professors’ teaching styles that can impact choices such as tenure decisions and if lecturers get invited back to teach. Course evaluations are a quick and effective litmus test to see how a lecturer or professor is truly seen by their students.
“Professors at Pepperdine are asked to reflect on their course evaluations when applying for tenure and other promotions. The reading and reflection on evaluations is, in my opinion, an important part of growing as a professor,” Psychology professor Jennifer Harriger wrote in a Jan. 21 email to the Graphic. “I personally read my evaluations each semester in an effort to further develop my teaching and my courses and often incorporate student feedback as I plan future classes.”
Course evaluations also hold space for student voices and student experiences, which if removed, might be silenced. Some students will only comment on a professor in an anonymous space like a course evaluation.
These evaluations also provide a window for students to reflect on their own learning in the course, what they thought of a specific professor’s teaching style and how the professor delivered class materials and assessments. The evaluation can be an opportunity to praise professors who met or surpassed student expectations, and a chance to mention aspects of a course or professor receptiveness to student needs and accommodations which could be improved in subsequent classes.
“Teacher evaluations provide a chance for professors to grow and better accommodate students. It gives an opportunity for students to be heard and pave the way for an improved educational structure within a certain class,” sophomore Joshua Pitney wrote in a Jan. 21 email to the Graphic.
Thus, even though Seaver College students no longer get extra credit for filling out the course evaluations, they still benefit and potentially protect future Pepperdine students.
Critics of these evaluations may argue similar information may be found on public online sites that offer professor reviews such as Rate My Professors. However, some of those websites have strict limits to what can be written in terms of both length and content.
In contrast, Pepperdine students can write whatever they want for their course evaluations. They are a 100% anonymous way for students to share very detailed thoughts about their specific experiences with a particular professor and class.
They offer ample space to fully express student viewpoints. Furthermore, knowing administration reads these these reviews they offer a direct path to voicing student feedback to faculty and an anonymous way to compliment staff too.
It offers a potential way to give back to professors who have shared so much of their talent and personal time to nurture and mentor you. Finding 10 minutes to write something positive about a professor who made a difference in your life is not a big ask.
Filling out a course evaluation is not a big temporal request. That small gift of time can be a huge blessing to a professor’s career, future students’ pedagogical experiences and the Pepperdine community.
Seaver College administrators may not read your brief snapshot of reflection about a review of a Pepperdine class experience on Rate My Professors. In contrast, by writing experiences in detail into professors’ course evaluations, students have direct influence and input into the quality of teaching at the University.
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