With fewer than six weeks left in the semester, students were sent final evaluations for courses. However, many waited for midsemester evaluations, which never came.
In an email sent by the university, students were reminded to fill out the evaluations, which will be released to professors after grades have been submitted. But without midsemester evaluations, students have no way express the problems they may be facing while their classes are still in session—there is no way to give professors the appropriate time to address what could be changed when it still counts.
Stony Brook should bring back midsemester evaluations to help both students and professors. Granted, sometimes it is difficult to make changes midway through a course. But even if professors are aware of general concerns, certain issues can be adjusted while classes are in session.
In addition, students need to take evaluation seriously when they are sent out. Most students have opinions, good and bad, about courses, professors and grades. Students, however, hardly ever use the one tool that is given to them to convey these problems. If students really have a problem with something, they should fill out their evaluations and write to department heads if necessary.
The results of these surveys, even if filtered, should also be available to students. Professors often promote course evaluations as a better pathway for expressing dissatisfaction with courses than sites like Rate My Professor, but tools like these are essential to students for making informed class selections. Making course evaluation data public gives students more incentive to complete the evaluations and simultaneously makes them more valuable to the Stony Brook community.
Yale University releases numerical ratings of professors from its own student evaluations as well as specific comments as to why students ranked professors the way they did. This kind of system would be immensely valuable to the student body while still maintaining important feedback for professors. Students benefit from being able to choose the best professors, and professors benefit from getting an accurate view of the effectiveness of their instruction.
Improving classes is a two-way street. If students want things to change, they need to utilize the semester evaluations. But the university needs also to give students the opportunity to voice their opinions, preferably while there is still time for adjustments.
The Editorial Board