Teacher Evaluation Tool
Teaching evaluation tool paper.
Teacher evaluation form: Warren Wilson College
Warren Wilson College gives out an anonymous teaching evaluation form to all students at the end of every course. One of the most interesting aspects of this form is the extent to which it demands students engage in a certain degree of self as well as professional evaluation of the teacher. The first questions on the form are: “to what extent did you come to classes prepared to engage actively in learning; did you complete all course requirements, on time, as indicated in the syllabus for the course; to what extent did you take advantage of opportunities to improve the quality of your work and learning in this course?” There is an implied presumption that a student who invests more of him or herself into the course will be better able to give an accurate review of the teacher. However, it could also be noted that if the teacher’s class reported a very high degree of disaffection and lack of enthusiasm about completing assignments, this would not speak particularly well of the professor’s competence.
All of the questions in this section of the form offer 1-4 scale of rating responses from ‘almost always’ to ‘never’ or ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions along with a space provided to add further details. This allows for students to nuance their responses to some degree as well as for quantitative analysis of the responses. Students are also asked to offer what grade they think they are likely to get at the end of the evaluation which is obviously presumed to be a good indication of the degree to which they feel positive about their learning experience. Of course, students could lie on any of these questions and over-inflate their performance, but the hope is that the anonymous nature of the survey will prevent this from occurring.
However, linking high grades with the actual knowledge conveyed by the course is extremely problematic, as noted in one study which found that while “student evaluations are strongly related to grades…learning, as measured by future grades, is unrelated to student evaluations once current grades have been controlled…[and] evaluations vary with instructor characteristics, the type of section, and composition of the class” in a manner which can be highly subjective (Weinberg, Hashimoto, & Fleisher 2009: 254). On the Warren Wilson form only information about grades and participation are asked.
The next several questions on the evaluation form pertain specifically to the professor’s performance in class, asking how the student would rate the professor and the course and how he or she benefited from taking the course. These responses likewise are graded on a score of 1-4 as well as provide open written response sections for additional details. Teachers are rated based upon effective communication and effective use of time specifically.
On the ‘flip’ side of the form, students are given a list of adjectives in two columns which they may check, one to describe the course itself, the other to describe the teacher. Some of these adjectives are positive; others negative and they are mixed to ensure that students do not merely speed through the evaluation without carefully reading the different entries. Finally, the student is given two ‘essay questions: “how did you grow intellectually in this course? Please give specific examples” and “what additional comments would you like to make about course and teacher strengths or suggested improvements?”
This teacher evaluation form indicates why student evaluations are considered so problematic: while it does contain information to judge the students’ level of commitment and asks questions about the course quality as well as the teaching (given that there is a difference), most of the questions are heavily reliant upon relatively general student perceptions of teacher performance and vague-open ended questions which the students might not give detailed responses to. It can be very difficult for a student to define what ‘meaningful’ or ‘practical’ means (some of the adjectives offered on the checklist to describe the course). Asking students to give specific examples of what they witnessed during the semester might be far more valuable than asking generic questions about communication and the student’s grades and attendance. “When student ratings are used for multiple purposes, then multiple sources of information must be elicited. It is imperative that every contributing influence on teaching effectiveness is considered, so that potential problems areas can be adequately responded to” (Dorasamy & Balkaran 2013: 280). Asking students to name their most memorable learning experiences, class discussions, and readings would force more specific responses and stimulate greater critical thinking. Ultimately, this instrument must be revised and included used in conjunction with other evaluation media to truly effectively evaluation instructors.
Dorasamy, N. & Balkaran, R. (2013). Role of student ratings of lecturers in enhancing
teaching at higher education institutions: A case study of the Durban University of Technology. Journal of Economics and Behavioral Studies, 5 (5): 268-281.
Warren Wilson College. (2013). Teacher Evaluation Form. Retrieved:
Weinberg, B., Hashimoto, M & Fleisher, B. (2009). Evaluating teaching in higher education. Research in Economic Education, 227-261.
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