Philip Stark, professor and chairman of the Department of Statistics at the University of California, Berkeley, has written about the effectiveness of such evaluations. A preview of his work on the usefulness of evaluations was published on ScienceOpen’s website on Sept. 29.
Stark said evaluations that involve rating teachers are largely ineffective.
“Ratings don’t reflect learning,” Stark said. “The topic (of ratings) has bugged me ever since I became a professor.”
Beverly Taylor, professor and chairwoman of the UNC Department of English and Comparative Literature, said evaluations allow the department to work with teachers who consistently get poor evaluations.
In her own classes, Taylor estimated that 40 percent of students fill out evaluations. She said she does use the appraisals to alter syllabuses.
Stark said when students fill out an evaluation at the end of a course, they might not take time to process past their most powerful emotion. Although Stark still uses evaluations in his own classes, he said he places the most emphasis on comments from students.
Taylor said it’s often the people who are mad about something who make sure to write an evaluation.
Paul Roberge, chairman of the UNC Department of Linguistics, agreed.