Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Chronicle of Higher Education: Tricks for Boosting Student Evaluations, by Gene C. Fant Jr.:
I often chuckle at how faculty members will sometimes wheedle and cajole their students to give higher marks. Local doughnut shops tend to see sales rise that week as professors buy treats for their classes. Extra-credit assignments seem to pop up like mushrooms after a nice long spring shower. Pep talks about how much the students make life worth living are heard resounding in the hallways.
What is the most interesting "trick" you have seen faculty members use to bargain for better student evaluations? ...
- An instructor up for tenure projected a picture of his wife and child on a large screen while the evaluations were being written.
- A colleague who taught a large-lecture format (250 students) introductory logic course always had donuts delivered to the lecture hall the day of class evaluations.
- Let's see: 1) announcing that the final exam will be given before exam week, giving students (and, not incidentally, faculty) exam week off, 2) announcing a curve favorable to grade inflation, 3) carrying the evaluations around for the final two weeks of classes, awaiting a favorable attendance pattern to administer the forms, 4) shifting the final exam to a take-home format, 5) agreeing to drop the lowest exam or quiz grade.
- Taking the entire class out for lunch and distributing the evaluations with dessert.
- Chicago-Kent law professor Richard Conviser's ratings were so low that he got the rating service, ratemyprofs.com, to remove his ratings all together!