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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Students, profs differ in views on evaluations”

    Students may disagree about the usefulness of professor and class rating services available online, but professors said the feedback they read can positively impact the course for future students.

    As the semester winds down to the last week of classes, course instructors are handing out Teacher Course Evaluations to their students, something that has been done at the UA for about 25 years, said Gwendolyn Johnson, director of the Office of Institutional Research and Evaluation.

    “”It’s a way for students to provide feedback to instructors,”” Johnson said.

    Departments and teachers use the results to gauge teaching effectiveness and improve courses, and they are considered when a faculty member is applying for tenure, Johnson said.

    Students can view professor and class ratings for most UA classes of the past three years at

    Some students said they look up professor evaluations to help them decide on classes when they are registering.

    Allison Wolfe, a communication sophomore, said on the occasions she uses TCEs, they usually don’t influence her class choices because she doesn’t find much variation between different professor evaluations.

    “”I look at them when I have options, but I usually don’t have too many options,”” Wolfe said. “”I (usually) just have to take the classes I can get so I don’t even bother looking them up.””

    Mark Szikla, an economics junior, said he sometimes likes to know what UA students rate on the TCEs, but he usually checks the Web site to see what students have said about professors.

    “”The more sources you have, the better,”” Szikla said. has been online since 1999 and is now “”the Internet’s largest listing of college professor ratings,”” according to the Web site. UA students have rated about 1,405 professors on the Web site.

    Students can anonymously rate a professor’s helpfulness and the clarity and difficulty of the course on a scale of one through five and indicate whether they think a professor is “”hot”” or “”not.””

    Reid Inouye, a pre-pharmacy sophomore, said he doesn’t rate any of his professors on the site, but he likes to use it to form expectations for his courses.

    “”I use it to check on my future professors to what other students think about them,”” said Steven Mullen, department head and professor of atmospheric sciences, said he came across and read what some students had written.

    Mullen said students are entitled to the evaluation they give about a professor, but they should remain fair and honest.

    Though about 15 percent of Mullen’s students take the time to write additional comments on the TCEs, Mullen said he and other professors find that the written comments and “”constructive criticism”” help improve their teaching.

    After a student suggested slowing down the pace of his lectures, Mullen began including more visual and supplementary materials to one of his courses.

    Robert Martin, an American Indian studies teacher, also said he made changes to his teaching and coursework because of student comments on the evaluations.

    “”They allow me to know if some of the course objectives need to be revised, and I appreciate the feedback on my own instruction,”” Martin said.

    The results of the TCEs haven’t always been available to students, Johnson said.

    About 15 years ago, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona petitioned the Faculty Senate to make the results more widely available.

    Johnson said the Office of Institutional Research and Evaluation is considering expanding its Internet-based TCEs, but for now, only distance-learning Web-based courses use Internet-based evaluations, Johnson said.

    For now, administrators feel that giving out the evaluations at the beginning or end of the class is more convenient for students because it’s more immediate and the student response rates are better, Johnson said.

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