Rate your way to a better professor
SAIT’s instructors are evaluated in a more formal and routine way in the form of semesterly Student Instructional Reports (SIRs) – surveys that are handed out to students during classes before the close of each term. Each survey asks a variety of questions and includes a written response section which allows students to rank a course and instructor on a scale of one to five.
While the entire SIR evaluation is important, SAITSA vice-president academic Andrew Crossett said that, “In the past, this [written response] question has been the sole focal point of the evaluation.”
“Getting low marks on this single question of the evaluation meant that the instructor would have to complete an action plan to improve the grade, or for even lower grades, complete an instructor skills workshop,” he said.
In addition to the semesterly SIRs, voicing students’ concerns and providing feedback to instructors were said by SAIT’s school of business instructor Dan Wong to be some of the best ways of evaluating a teacher’s performance, and the popular website RateMyProfessor.com offers students ample space to kvetch about their professors.
With the help of RateMyProfessor.com – which allows college students to rank the quality of their teachers’ instructions – students are a click away from providing online feedback on whether or not their teachers deserve a passing grade. SAIT’s section on the site features 344 of its instructors with rankings ranging from flattering to embarrassing, and this digital feedback was described by David Stephen – a student enrolled in SAIT’s 23-week accelerated Fast Track web developer program – as, “fairly good and decently accurate” in preparing students for their in-classroom encounters with ranked teachers.
This, however, is not enough of a reason for Stephens to routinely check the ratings of teachers as he said that he likes to, “build my own opinions of my teacher myself. I don’t let [online ratings] get in the way of my own opinion.”
Wong, who has received a total of 70 ratings averaging a score of 4.8/5 on RateMyProfessor.com, said that he has never checked out his own rating on the popular site as he is “indifferent” towards that form of evaluation. However, he said that while he pays close attention to the written portions of the “formalized” SIR evaluations, the most important form of feedback he gets comes from his students themselves.
“The feedback that I get from my students is when I see that they’re understanding the information that I’m teaching them and it’s confirmation that they’re enjoying my lessons,” he said.
While perusing the online scores of your teachers may help to pass the time in class, your best bet for bringing about any substantial changes in the classroom may be found in speaking up as Wong believes that, “A good instructor needs to listen to their students and understand that they’ve identified what you can improve on.
“You don’t want to limit your ability to voice your thoughts, negative or positive,” he said.
First-year hospitality management student Charmayne Penner – who has yet to experience either a SIR evaluation or the urge to electronically rate one of her professors – sees any avenue of voicing her opinions on her teachers as an opportunity to improve courses for students who may come after her.
During this academic year, Penner said that she will make the best of the available forms of student evaluations and student-sourced feedback to make her voice heard for the benefit of herself and those around her, though she generally likes to give teachers “the benefit of the doubt in the classroom.”
“If I had a problem with a teacher, I would tell someone because they’re affecting my learning and it’s probably affecting other people’s learning, too,” she said.
“After all, you’ve got a voice for a reason.”