What was a far-off thought one year ago might soon become a reality for University of Nevada, Reno students.
Before the end of the fall semester, a resolution was passed by the Associated Students of the University of Nevada that endorses the idea of making faculty evaluations available to all students. Spearheaded by College of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Natural Resources Sen. Ryan Hood, the resolution would accomplish an array of goals from holding professors accountable to giving students a better idea of which instructors would fit their learning style the best. However, this new development does offer some problems, especially for the faculty who would oppose being under a harsher microscope.
Nonetheless, students need to spread the word about this resolution to professors they feel comfortable with and could start petitions among themselves to make this a reality sooner rather than later.
If this plan were successfully carried through, the compiled course evaluations would be much more reliable than going to RateMyProfessor.com. The website, which is used frequently by college students to see which professors would best suit their lifestyle, is useful but can reflect unfair extremes. That being said, course evaluations would eliminate the limited gray area on RMP; every student would fill out an evaluation, providing a more consistent look at what each instructor does right and what they do wrong.
Additionally, the students would take course evaluations at the end of the semester more seriously if they saw the output of their suggestions on an aggregated website. It is somewhat commonly known that course evaluations are not taken as seriously as they should be and evaluation time in class is rushed through so students can leave earlier. Making the evaluations public would allow class time to be used in a more efficient and productive way than the time has been used in the past.
In addition to giving students better insight about which professors would best suit their needs, the professors would be held accountable for their teaching practices. It should also be noted that if each professor took the evaluations seriously, they would learn from their mistakes and offer a more productive curriculum for their students to thrive.
However, there are drawbacks in the form of the budget constraints and pushback from the faculty who would be opposed to unfairly negative reviews based on poor grades. The ability to review instructors presents students with an opportunity to get the most out of their education, but with that comes a responsibility to use that power fairly. These evaluations would not be the time to unleash personal bitterness over getting a bad grade; they must be used to critically evaluate all aspects of the course so that future students can have an accurate knowledge of what to expect.
There will always be outliers in each course, but the median of the course evaluation bell curve should tell the true story of what happened. The budget also plays a role and is a potential problem for the administration that is having a hard time finding faculty and classes to accommodate the growing population of the university. That being said, it could possibly eliminate instructors that are not living up to the standards that the students held them to.
Ultimately, the resolution presents students with a golden opportunity that could become one of the most beneficial developments in recent memory. Students who want public evaluations to become a reality need to voice their support for the resolution. Talk to your professors about what their thoughts are and get the conversation going. One of the best ways we have progressed as a society is becoming flexible, not rigid, and being able to learn and progress from our mistakes.
The Nevada Sagebrush editorial staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.