Do student opinions/reviews of instruction at the end of semesters mean a damn thing?
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30-01-2016, 09:47 AM
Do student opinions/reviews of instruction at the end of semesters mean a damn thing?
I assume they do, but at the same time, if there is anyone here who knows, I'd like to be elucidated with some insight about this.

I'm not sure how it works anywhere else, but at the community college I returned to as a student in 2014, at the end of each semester you are sent automatic notifications, for each class you've taken, to give an anonymous review of instruction for every respective class.

Over the last year and a half, I haven't thought much about it, because I'd never had anything negative to say about the instructors in previous classes. Up until the fall of 2015, I only had positive experiences with respectful, polite and professional ones.

I had a poor experience this past fall. Every instructor was fantastic except my chemistry lab instructor. To make this short and sweet, she was rude, unprofessional, impolite and didn't care to 'instruct' (despite the onus being on her, since the occupation title is to do just that). Before 2015, I had never taken a chemistry course in my life, and in addition to that, I hadn't taken a math class in a decade. My chemistry lecture instructor (yes, one for lecture and one for lab) was, and is, everything that all the other instructors I've had are (polite, professional, respectful).

The lab instructor yelled, screamed and threw childish temper tantrums over stupid shit. I never had any one-on-one personal dealings with her, but she consistently had a condescending tone throughout the entire semester and berated students if they made one mistake doing the labs.

I was licking my chops all semester for the end of it all, to write a review on the veritable garbage instructor. So, the time came around, I did the review. Wrote ten passionate -- but calmly worded and explained, in great detail -- paragraphs about the poor experience in that class, and submitted the survey/review of instruction. I explained her poor attitude and shitty behavior. All the BS. I knew I'd have her again, for this semester (unfortunately; the second part of chemistry), but hoped like hell things would change. Nope. Still the same old scumbucket.

Enough of my long diatribe...

Do these student opinion/reviews of instruction mean a damn thing or hold any impact? Or are they just a collective fart in the wind?
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30-01-2016, 10:07 AM
RE: Do student opinions/reviews of instruction at the end of semesters mean a damn thing?
They aren't going to be something a professor suddenly shifts who they are based upon.

I had good relations to professors who talked about these things. I know one who was the head of the English Department at my school did consider the comment sections for ideas on how to instruct. He did want feedback on if he should ad more historical or situation impact into authors or not or creative ideas to include in projects since he was always big on choosing multiple options for assignments.

I guess they also do judge impact and potential salary/class choices that the instructors might be in competitive desire for. That's an element to them that they will generally care about mostly.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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30-01-2016, 10:12 AM
RE: Do student opinions/reviews of instruction at the end of semesters mean a damn thing?
I remember those. I think good professors take the reviews to heart, bad ones probably just throw them in the trash without a second thought. If nothing else, you were able to make your opinion known. If the professor takes it to heart or not is up to them. Pretty soon people will be avoiding their classes and word about shitty professors carries quick around a college campus. I had an Art History professor like that in college--everyone warned me about her. She was a nightmare--screaming at students, putting them down, ruled by fear and humiliation, was scary to talk to, harsh grader. It was like Simon Cowell teaching an art class. However, when I got an A on my final paper, I knew she must have really liked it and that I did a really good job since she was such a hard ass.
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30-01-2016, 10:16 AM
RE: Do student opinions/reviews of instruction at the end of semesters mean a damn thing?
I highly doubt that they matter, otherwise quite a few of people who were "teaching" at my University would now be jobless.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

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30-01-2016, 10:19 AM
RE: Do student opinions/reviews of instruction at the end of semesters mean a damn thing?
I think it depends. If the professor is tenured, then reviews are less likely to have an impact.

If the professor doesn't have tenure, then student reviews could be a factor in determining their future with the university.

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30-01-2016, 10:37 AM
Do student opinions/reviews of instruction at the end of semesters mean a damn thing?
(30-01-2016 09:47 AM)UndauntedToast Wrote:  I assume they do, but at the same time, if there is anyone here who knows, I'd like to be elucidated with some insight about this.

I'm not sure how it works anywhere else, but at the community college I returned to as a student in 2014, at the end of each semester you are sent automatic notifications, for each class you've taken, to give an anonymous review of instruction for every respective class.

Over the last year and a half, I haven't thought much about it, because I'd never had anything negative to say about the instructors in previous classes. Up until the fall of 2015, I only had positive experiences with respectful, polite and professional ones.

I had a poor experience this past fall. Every instructor was fantastic except my chemistry lab instructor. To make this short and sweet, she was rude, unprofessional, impolite and didn't care to 'instruct' (despite the onus being on her, since the occupation title is to do just that). Before 2015, I had never taken a chemistry course in my life, and in addition to that, I hadn't taken a math class in a decade. My chemistry lecture instructor (yes, one for lecture and one for lab) was, and is, everything that all the other instructors I've had are (polite, professional, respectful).

The lab instructor yelled, screamed and threw childish temper tantrums over stupid shit. I never had any one-on-one personal dealings with her, but she consistently had a condescending tone throughout the entire semester and berated students if they made one mistake doing the labs.

I was licking my chops all semester for the end of it all, to write a review on the veritable garbage instructor. So, the time came around, I did the review. Wrote ten passionate -- but calmly worded and explained, in great detail -- paragraphs about the poor experience in that class, and submitted the survey/review of instruction. I explained her poor attitude and shitty behavior. All the BS. I knew I'd have her again, for this semester (unfortunately; the second part of chemistry), but hoped like hell things would change. Nope. Still the same old scumbucket.

Enough of my long diatribe...

Do these student opinion/reviews of instruction mean a damn thing or hold any impact? Or are they just a collective fart in the wind?

They can if they reach the person of authority over the instructor. I took mine very seriously when I was teaching vo-tech. I never had a bad review but I did get one critique that I talked too much. lol Which is funny because, you know, I'm the instructor, anyway, I'm sure it was probably still justified. I always turned mine in BUT I have heard of instructors who didn't.

If I was writing a bad review I would take a copy and send it to the person in charge of the instructors. That way I knew it would be seen. Since you've already submitted it when this semester ends I would do that again and I would put in there that this is your second complaint about their behavior and that you hope that the instructor will get some corrective feedback as this reflects poorly on the college.

If you want to bump it up, file a complaint. There is a process for it and if you won't be having her again that is probably what I would do. Bad teachers are a menace to education. We don't need them. So sorry you've had to deal with that. It's makes an otherwise enjoyable class a misery.

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30-01-2016, 11:04 AM (This post was last modified: 30-01-2016 11:11 AM by UndauntedToast.)
RE: Do student opinions/reviews of instruction at the end of semesters mean a damn thing?
I appreciate the replies, everybody!

I knew something was up on the first day of classes last semester. If I walk into a classroom and the instructor of whatever class it is, is in there, I will speak. I personally see that as common courtesy and politeness. That's how I grew up! She was looking down at papers at something, never bothering to look up, and I said, "How's it goin'?", and she said, "OK". I then said, "Hectic day today, huh?" and she simply said, "For the teachers here." I didn't think much of that at the time, but looking back in hindsight, meh.

I totally understand someone who's quiet or naturally shy. She is not. From that very first day, she spoke to students as if they were high school students that had previously been coddled. Now, I realize that most of my peers in that class were younger than me (and fresh out of school), as I've been out of grade school since 2009, but her condescending, holier than thou tone put me off. There's no rhyme or reason for that kind of shit. Let's be adults and display a modicum of mutual respect. Just because you are a "qualified" and "knowledgeable" wielder of a chemistry degree that was handed to you in the guise of a piece of paper does not give you a right to belittle students who do not yet hold even a tiny fraction of that said knowledge.

She screamed, yelled and barked orders all semester long. Not much "teaching" going on. I suppose she felt it necessary that the responsibility to 'teach' fell on the lecture instructor (who was and is phenomenal). I want to reiterate: this is my first ever brush was chemistry. The lab portion of the class counts for 25% of my grade. I worked my ass off last semester and made it out of there as a B. I'm in the second part of the class for this semester, and it's allegedly -- according to the abysmal lab instructor -- much harder. The semester is too early to tell right now, though, but she is the same person she was last semester. Shamelessly LOUD, rude and unprofessional.

In the opinion of instruction survey, I wrote about how, if I was in contact with a large portion of the student body, calling for her resignation would be feasible. Is that extreme? Certainly, but when your occupation title is instructor, and the onus is on you to instruct when you are not, you are failing to live up to your billing and are essentially receiving a paycheck for nothing. Unfortunately, I'm a stranger to about everybody there, as I've acquainted myself with just a few people so far.

There have been other students who have changed their majors just so they wouldn't have to take another course of chemistry featuring her this semester. I can't blame them. I'm just grinning and bearing it. I am riddled with extreme anxiety every single Wednesday (3pm lab). I dread going to that class so much. She's an energy vampire. Ever been around somebody who saps your energy? One that gives off negative vibes and nothing else? That's her.

All in all, I'm just sucking it up and doing my best. Just gotta get to May! I only worry that my advisor is going to want to know if I want to take organic chemistry in the fall. If she's the lab instructor for that class, HELL NO!

Despite yours truly being an ignorant dumbass in chemistry (I don't mean that in a big time self-deprecating way), it wouldn't be so bad if the instructor was polite, professional and eager to teach. That's the difference between the best of the best and the bottom of the barrell.

Last year, I took geology. My instructor for that class was batshit crazy (personality wise), but you know what? He waltzed into that classroom with insane energy each class. He taught with immense and unmatched passion. You could tell that he loved what he did for a living. He said he preferred teaching at a community college over a university because a smaller classroom helped him connect with his students more. Despite his flaws, he was a fantastic instructor. He was always available for help or advice. I actually thought about emailing him at times last semester, to ask for his advice on dealing with this shit chemistry lab instructor, but I never bothered.

It's a damn good community college (for a, well, community college), but she's the bad apple of the whole bunch. No passion, no zest, no resolve.

She consistently likes to say, whenever someone makes a mistake, "If you take another chemistry lab at a university, those instructors won't take this shit!" Well..... whether that is true or not, you aren't entitled to be a goddamn energy vampire about it! If this is her way of "preparing" students for the future, then that's a shitty tactic. I value a quality education brought on by quality instructors, something she is not.
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30-01-2016, 03:54 PM
RE: Do student opinions/reviews of instruction at the end of semesters mean a damn thing?
In my department, we have two types of feedback, there are questions that the students have to provide written answers for. These are more meant as feedback to the instructor as to what is working and what is not. There are also fill in the bubble answers that that are totaled on the scantron. These are used for tenure and promotion by the department and university. Departments can be quite different on how they handle teaching evaluations. In my department, the behavior you are describing would not be tolerated and in either a teaching assistant or untenured faculty member, but this sort of thing can vary widely. Some feedback on your part to the chair of the department would not be out of order.
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30-01-2016, 04:34 PM
RE: Do student opinions/reviews of instruction at the end of semesters mean a damn thing?
I have a couple of friends who are professors. What their undergraduate students think of them has very little impact on their job security. What matters is research money and publishing. Teaching undergraduates is viewed as an almost "necessary evil". One of the two told me he actually reads all his student comments because he wants to be a better teacher. The other wants to be a good teacher but isn't overly worried if he's not and doesn't pay attention to student comments at all.

It may be different at a community college, but at the universities my 2 friends are at it doesn't seem to matter one bit.

If it makes you feel better, when you get to the real world many company's have these employee evaluations and those don't matter either. So, the process where you are asked for an opinion but no one really gives is a shit is something that may very well carry forward into your ultimate career.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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30-01-2016, 06:13 PM
RE: Do student opinions/reviews of instruction at the end of semesters mean a damn thing?
Sometimes they do. I took an intro Astronomy class, where the lecturer was pretty bad. Come review time, he handed out the forms and then read them after we handed them in, which is inappropriate. He acknowledged this and read them anyway. He then gave them to me to take to the office. I explained what happened, to the dean of the Physics Department. That guy doesn't teach there anymore. Might have gotten away with it if he hadn't given the envelope full of reviews to a Physics major. Another time, one of the profs had a hard time with English. From China, and hard of hearing, so his speech was quite guttural. A lot of students complained during the Spring semester. I had the same prof in the fall, and evidently he had gotten some speech therapy over the summer, because I had no trouble understanding him. I will say that I only had two bad profs- the astonomy guy and the guy who "taught" mechanics when I was at a JC (first year). My experience prompted me to go straight to the university instead of spending another year at the JC, since next up for me was E&M, same prof. As a physics major, I needed to be sure to get good instruction to back up my own studying. The guy could barely do Calculus! Alas, couldn't do anything about that guy. He was still the same years later, when I talked to people who had him after I did.
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