rate your professor

Course evaluations came in for my undergraduate course a couple days ago. Mine were good, not fabulous like the evaluations for the comparable course at Wisconsin, but certainly fine given my long layoff from teaching and ways that I already know I can make the course better.

Evaluations at Northwestern are online and include part that can henceforth be viewed by anyone with a Northwestern userid. (One’s salary is private at Northwestern but public at Wisconsin; one’s course evaluations are public at Northwestern but private at Wisconsin. Choose your poison.)

I did have one student who deeply disliked me and wrote at length for the public evaluation about aspects of my mannerisms that irked them. (Previous Me would post the evaluation here, as it’s ultimately kind of funny in its outlandishness; Present Me suspects that doing that would be too easily troll fodder.) Among other things, though, apparently I “smack my mouth” when I talk. I don’t exactly know what that means; someone who knows me as a speaking being should let me know so I can put it on my list of Things To Work On.

Curiously, despite this person going on about their dislike for me, they still gave me a 4 out of 6 as my overall evaluation. And luckily, their evaluation is in the middle of the list, so future prospective students who look up the evaluations for this course will have appropriate context to see it as an outlier.

Author: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

15 thoughts on “rate your professor”

  1. Course evals are public here as well. This caused great consternation here in the fall when comments–not scores–from last spring were cherry-picked and printed (along with the course and prof’s name) in the campus newspaper. Some were just horrible “I would rather be repeatedly smacked in the head than sit through another one of his lectures again.”

    I live in fear of that happening to me…

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  2. That sucks, and I know from experience it hurts a little even when we say, “oh, well it was just one person with an axe to grind…” Or something like that. That said, it might actually be useful to have an outlier like this–its outlandishness might bolster the vast majority of evaluators who think you’re pretty okay!

    As for the mouth-smacking, I would think you would have heard something about it by now. For what it’s worth, I might be tempted to sign up for the course just to see such a thing if I were a prospective student.

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  3. Unless your Public Speaking Self and your Conversational Self have entirely different mouthly habits, I am confident that you don’t need to put “mouth smacking” on your list of Things To Work On.

    Now, if the student meant “talking smack,” well, that would be a different matter entirely.

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  4. My favorite feedback from last year was, “Don’t insult the Scottish. We may not have preserved the written word during the Dark Ages but we are a proud people none the less.”

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  5. Sucks that they’re on-line, but at least access is limited to the Northwestern community. I was googling someone at Penn a couple years ago to find his e-mail address and stumbled upon his course evals. Now that really sucks. Perhaps they’ve remedied that problem (assuming they view it as one).

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  6. my favorite was from one of colleagues who had a student write that “the professor is biased towards those who did the readings.”

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  7. ASM publishes UW course evaluations. Anyone can access them online (though it takes a little searching). Not what folks write in, but the scores. So you can check that out. YOu can also see the grade distribution of sections (so you know if a prof is easy or hard). Here at Columbia we have CULPA which is an anonymous ratemyprofessor-like service. I suspect the student who was nasty to me wrote in a review, either that or another student didn’t like me.

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  8. We can’t even require faculty to conduct them, though juniors (of course) can be penalized for failing to do so.

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  9. I got the lowest evals of my teaching career – like yours, from great (5.5 ish) to merely good (5.0 ish), but still it’s owie. Two comments in a row: “I needed much more guidance writing my thesis” and “I didn’t need any help with my thesis.”

    If you read my blog I told you that last quarter one of my students told me I focused to much on editing details. This quarter, “Also, it would have been nice to receive some editing from the advisor/editing comments to strengthen the writing itself.”

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