By Danielle Larson
Teacher evaluations serve multiple purposes, according to Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Thomas Mans. They provide feedback to teachers so they can improve their teaching methods in the classroom, and they help the institution evaluate its personnel.
The faculty and department chair review the evaluations to determine improvements needed for particular courses or professors.
Students tend to evaluate their professors with high marks, said Mans. When there are low or mediocre marks, the dean, associate dean, or department chair then evaluates that professor.
Teachers are obligated to improve, said Mans, and who better to tell them how to become better than their students.
“Comments are appreciated,” said Mans.
Faculty also appreciate it when students take the evaluations seriously and provide constructive criticism, Mans said. “It’s unhelpful for students to make snarky comments or act out on paper” against their teachers, he said, as it makes the evaluation process harder.
Certain criteria, such as whether the professor is new to SMU, are taken into consideration while looking over the evaluations. According to Mans, it takes a while for a new teacher to break into their new surroundings.
Mans explained that evaluations have also been studied to see if students evaluated male professors differently than female professors.
The Faculty Advancement in Tenure Review Committee also uses the evaluations to help assess for faculty tenure promotion. When the time comes for a teacher’s tenure promotion, evaluations are heavily referred to. The school wants to make sure they are making the right choice in promoting that professor, said Mans.
For students who worry over privacy and the idea of their professors finding out who wrote particular comments, Mans has considered moving the evaluations to an online process. Having them online would make the process a lot quicker, allow for faculty to get results back and make changes more promptly, and make the evaluations more private, said Mans.