Why course evaluations matter

Earlier today, I received an email attachment containing my student evaluations for the spring semester.

At UNC-Chapel Hill, students are asked to evaluate their courses using an online form. I was happy to see that most of mine had taken the time to provide feedback.

Course evaluations are useful. Here’s why.

To the instructor: I read the evaluations carefully, taking time not only to see how students ranked various aspects of a course, but also looking for comments that can help me teach a course better the next time around. Over the years, I have adjusted readings and assignments based on student feedback.

To the department and university: Course evaluations play an important role in decisions regarding tenure and promotion. They are the primary method for assessing a professor’s effectiveness in the classroom. At UNC, tenured professors are reviewed every five years on teaching, research and service. Again, the student evaluations are essential.

Thanks to the students this semester for their kind words and constructive criticism. I’ll consider your suggestions.

I cannot, however, honor your most frequent request: Eliminate 8 a.m. classes. You’ll have to take that idea to the chancellor.