At the end of every semester, university students evaluate classes that they take during the semester. These evaluations are important because students can express their opinions on how to improve the quality of the classes. However, due to some irresponsible students’ insincere attitudes, questions regarding the merits of the courses are not being taken seriously. For that reason, the course evaluations do not fulfill their intended role. The Observer looked into course evaluation at YU, identified things to be improved and looked for solutions.
Yeungnam University course evaluation
YU students complete a course evaluation after mid-terms and before final exams. During this period, students can participate in course evaluations after logging on to the university homepage. The purpose of the evaluation is for students to deliver their feedback on classes in order to improve the quality of the classes after they consider the professor's attitude and lecture contents. Furthermore, the university makes use of course evaluations to develop the classroom environment, and utilize them as a document to refer to for professor achievement assessment. Features of course evaluation at YU YU ensures anonymity thoroughly to encourage students’ open opinions. Professors cannot find out which students completed the evaluations. Moreover, students who do not participate in the evaluation are not able to view their grades until a later time. Therefore students should participate readily. However, evaluations of students who receive lower than a C grade are not reflected in the evaluation results. Survey regarding course evaluations The Observer surveyed 200 non-freshman students from March 19th, to March 30th, 2012. The first question was dealt with their standard of evaluation. Method of lecture was the most frequently given criteria at 35.5%, content of lectures was next at 35.5%, competence of the professor was next at 19.5% and interest toward students was at 3.5%. The importance of course evaluation Course evaluations are a fundamental right of students to assess lectures and are a means to ensure that we are getting value for our tuition. Moreover, it is the responsibility of students to express their opinions about lectures just like voting in elections. In addition, course evaluations affect the professor's achievement evaluations. The criteria for the professor achievement assessments include contributions to education, research, and service fields. Fifty percent of educational achievement is determined by course evaluations. The results influence a professor's prestige, promotion prospects, and incentive pay. This has been the case since the beginning of 2012 which means course evaluations are now more important than ever.
Points to be improved in the current system
First, The attitude of students needs to improve. Students must responsibly evaluate their courses. When students complete the evaluation based on a professor’s appearance and image, the evaluation cannot be fair. Evaluations cannot be completed based on personal feelings of familiarity or by involving malicious feelings. Not only that, but completing evaluations by simply checking boxes is irresponsible, and misses the original purpose of the evaluation. 34.5% of students replied that they complete the evaluations to check their grades early, 24% complete them because they think it is their responsibility, 22.5% complete them to improve course quality, 13.5% to point out course errors. 4.5% for other reasons and 1% gave no special reason.
Second, The attitude of professors toward the course evaluation needs to improve. Professors should not influence or pressure students during class time about course evaluations. The survey showed that 31.5% of students at YU have had an experience of hearing influential comments made about course evaluations by professors. 13.5% of the respondents replied they heard these kinds of comments 1 time, 21% replied 2-3 times, 2% replied 4-5 times and 0.5% replied more than 6 times.
Thrid,Evaluation questions are written without considering specific features of each department. There are only additional questions for lab/practical classes and foreign language classes. Other than those cases the questions are all the same. Even though there is a question about how many assignments (exam, quiz, and the others) are given, there is a lack of ways to evaluate the subject based on specific criteria. In addition, it is difficult to individualize and lead the class for the professors. It can infringe on the professor’s ability to teach.
Fourth,Course evaluation results are done only by score and without specific explanations. Students can check the results by going to the Education & Administration system on the YU homepage and then clicking administration class and course evaluation results. However, the results are only shown as raw scores and not as detailed information.
Last, The evaluations of students who receive lower than a C in courses are not reflected in the evaluation result. It is not reasonable that students are not able to evaluate courses they take when they have paid tuition. Evaluation should be considered regardless of the grade the student receives. It is unfair that the university does not reflect evaluation by students whose grades are lower than a C. The survey showed that 76% of the students disagree with the idea, 23.5% of students agree with it and 1 participant declined to comment.
How to improve the system
In order to promote objective evaluations, the university should announce course evaluations in advance and require more responsible attitudes from students. Moreover, the university should explain that course evaluations affect lecture quality and professor achievement evaluations. The university should also require students to write reasons for the marks when they give lower than 3 out of 5 points. The university should also revise the questions after considering the individual features of each department. Depending on the department and major, evaluations should be approached differently and should ask students questions that are specific to them. These changes need to be made in order to provide more creative education. As the evaluation criteria is the same for all departments and majors, professors feel the need to structure their courses the same way in order to meet the evaluation criteria. Course evaluation results should also give notice for more detailed criteria. After that, the university should act on the students’ feedback to improve lectures. Finally, all students' evaluations must be applied to the evaluation results.
The Observer felt that it was important to look into the course evaluation system at YU. There are some problems regarding the attitudes of both students and professors, and also with the system itself, from questions to reflection. Foremost these shortcomings need to be addressed in order to improve the quality of all of the lectures. If these issues are resolved, the university can take a giant leap forward.