As a person who really does not like confrontation in his personal life, and who wants to be liked (who doesn’t) I really dislike getting evaluations from students on my courses. This is the time of year for it, as Thoryke and Female Science Prof have mentioned.
Intellectually, of course, I really care about the means. Humans sort themselves into bell curves whether they will or no, and the mean is important. As long as the means are where they should be, I’m pretty happy. I’ve learned to ignore the minutae of evaluations. That was brought home when one student wrote that I didn’t like teaching, I was only “In it for the money…” I’ll let all the profs stop laughing at that one. I know where that comment came from, it was engendered because I pointed out to the class how much they were spending per hour, and they might want to not waste that money.
A commentator at FSP had a good point, and I have no idea how to get the data, but it would be helpful. In Dan’s own words:
I’m really interested in negative reviews from good students, mildly interested in positive reviews from bad students, possibly interested in positive reviews from good students, and definitely not interested in negative reviews from bad students.
Yes. Unfortunately, the results are anonymous. Frankly, I think that’s kind of chickenshit. If you don’t have the courage to mention something to my face, I really tend to discount it. I’m a civilized man, and welcome helpful feedback. That’s the most valuable information, and I really appreciate it when someone who gets it, who understands what I’m trying to get across tells me how to do it better.
There is a known correlation between how well one does on the course and how satisfied one is with it. Particularly if the course is stinking hard–like my physiology course. The folks who did well in that one really earned it. Too light winning makes the prize light, as Prospero pointed out, and that still holds true.