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Make Class/Professor Evaluations Available

Why doesn’t Williams have something like the Harvard Q Guide?

The Q evaluations provide important student feedback about courses and faculty. Many questions are multiple choice, though there’s room for comments as well. The more specific a student can be about an observation or opinion, the more helpful their response. Q data help students select courses and supplement Harvard’s Courses of Instruction, shopping period visits to classes and academic advising.

Faculty take these evaluations seriously – more than half logged on to view their students’ feedback last spring within a day of the results being posted. The Q strengthens teaching and learning, ultimately improving the courses offered at Harvard.

All true. The Q Guide works wonderfully, both providing students with more information as they select their courses and encouraging (some) faculty to take their undergraduate pedagogy more seriously. Consider STAT 104, the (rough) Harvard equivalent of STAT 201 at Williams. The Q Guide provides three main sources of information: students ratings of the class, student ratings of the professor, and student comments:

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Background Information (comments welcome):

1) Williams has Factrak, a service which includes some student evaluations.

See below the break for more images. Factrak is widely used and popular. Representative quote:

Factrack is super popular here — sigh is dead wrong. Any student serious about their classes spends some time on that site during registration periods. I’ve also found the advice on the website to be instructive. Of course, it takes some time to sort out who is giving levelheaded feedback and who is just bitter about getting a bad grade, but once you do there is frequently a bounty of information regarding a particular Prof’s teaching style.

2) Williams students fill out student course survey (SCS) forms, along with the associated blue sheets for comments. None of this information is made available to students.

3) Nothing prevents Williams, like Harvard, from distributing this information, either just internally (as Harvard does) or to the world art large. Reasonable modifications are possible. For example, Harvard allows faculty to decline to make the student comments public. (Such an option allows faculty to hide anything truly hurtful/unfair.) First year professors might be exempt. And so on. Why doesn’t Williams do this?

Assume you were a student interested in making this information available to the Williams community. Where would you start?

On a lighter note, EphBlog favorite Professor Nate Kornell notes:Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 2.35.50 PM

Factrak screenshots below the break:

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XrfVZjm - Imgur

3 Comments (Open | Close)

3 Comments To "Make Class/Professor Evaluations Available"

#1 Comment By Abl On April 23, 2019 @ 12:09 pm

What problem does this solve? So long as Factrack is widely used and popular and the blue sheets are likewise treated seriously (as I think they are), what’s the problem? It seems obvious to me that allowing students to leave different reviews for different audiences is more of a good than a bad thing.

#2 Comment By DDF On April 23, 2019 @ 12:35 pm

The more information that students have, the more likely they are to pick courses which they enjoy and learn from. Isn’t that fairly obvious?

If Harvard tried to take the Q Guide aways from students, there would be a revolt, precisely because the students find the information so helpful. Why don’t you want Williams to provide similar information to our students?

#3 Comment By abl On April 23, 2019 @ 12:59 pm

Williams does provide similar information to students: there is Factrack. (Harvard, on the other hand, doesn’t have a Factrack equivalent, right?)

What’s motivating this proposal? Any benefits would be marginal, given the fact that Factrack already exists as a well-used resource, whereas this strikes me as being something the admin is unlikely to adopt. In other words, this seems like a change that would, at best, make a small difference while having to overcome a lot of administrative pushback. What am I missing?