Teacher evaluations under evaluation

In the wake of our current budget crisis, one would imagine that the semester-long paper shortage would cause VCU to carefully consider the thousands of sheets of paper that go into printing teacher-evaluation forms given at the end of each semester.

It should be duly noted that yes, VCU believes these evaluations are important enough to be mass printed. As for our class syllabi, “go to Blackboard and print it out yourself,” is the attitude.

Yet it is the case that the four years that I have attended VCU, I have seen the same questions roll by, to little or no avail for anyone. Each semester as these evaluations are turned in, I truly wonder whether VCU has just wasted more of my academic time, their paper supply and my pencil lead.

With questions such as – “What was your opinion of the professor/course before registering for this class?” I can’t help but to draw a blank each time I encounter this, such a meaningless question to ask. I’d like to know what the statistics are for students answering the generic, but entirely true response – “No opinion.”

If VCU is looking for a few new questions, I have a handful off the top of my head that I didn’t need a Ph.D. to come up with.

* “Do you think this professor has prepared you well enough for the exams you are given?”

* “Do you think this professor has covered the topics within this course thoroughly?”

* “Do you think the effort given by your professor was sufficient for your learning in the course?”

* “Was this course worth the money you paid for it?”

If VCU wants to obtain real feedback from its students regarding the quality of its faculty and curriculum, I suggest holding back on the printing presses and getting out from behind the office desk to take a moment to speak to its student body firsthand. They might actually learn more from it than what a few 5-minute statistics could say about a professor whose livelihood is dependent upon the knowledge that he or she teaches.

Or is it all a mere fa

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