Staff Editorial: Grading the graders

Attention Student Association President-elect Julie Bindelglass: We have a summer project for you.

Next year, students must be able to sign up for classes and know what they are getting themselves into. This page has called for improved advising numerous times in the past, and last fall, we advocated for the results of student course evaluations to be made available online (“Rating our professors,” Nov. 10, p. 4).

There are few students on campus who would not benefit from seeing what previous students thought of a class or an instructor – the arguments for this change are endless. The only questions now are how to make it happen and who should be spearheading this effort.

Julie Bindelglass and her new cabinet will have the whole summer to make a dent in her campaign promises, which center on advocating for student needs. If she is able to get the foundation for this innovation in place by the time students are back on campus, it will be comparable to former SA President Nicole Capp’s summer agenda successes.

Many students fill out their end-of-the-semester evaluations knowing that no other students will actually see the results and rush through the Scantrons and handouts passed out at the end of class. Making all evaluations online-only would let students fill them out on their own time – and not letting people access their grades until they fill out evaluations would ensure students actually complete them. A three-minute survey is not that much to ask of anyone. Think of it as a public service.

From there, it would not take much more work to crunch the numbers and put them online in a user-friendly format. Providing students with a database – possibly linked to the Banner registration system – would cut one step out of the hectic planning process. Instead of keeping open in a separate browser, students could use the more reliable and statically relevant data provided by the University.

It wouldn’t be the biggest shock if the Faculty Senate is not completely behind this idea; having a poor rating right next to the registration check-box isn’t going to yield high enrollment rates. But the solution must be to improve the classes, not to bury the evidence that something isn’t working. Everyone, professors and students, will benefit from this feedback.

With General Curriculum Requirements slated to change, the academic value of each class will be completely different. Students will now have the added flexibility to take classes outside of requirements, and this type of database may be the only legitimate tool to figure out what courses are worthwhile.

Since most professors have already passed out their evaluations, this change would be optimal to take place at the end of this coming fall semester. That leaves a whole summer and then three more months to create this database. Julie Bindelglass, this is your chance to advocate for the most fundamental of student needs – making the most of your academic experience.

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