Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Friday, May 2, 2014

Never Use Student Evaluations

My friend the chair of Stats at UCD told me she never used them for promotion cases or merit raises.

Why? It's perfectly obvious: they are statistically meaningless.

I've heard the argument that “Well, but that's the way we've always done it.” The argument from precedent is never logical. Imagine the CIA defending waterboarding this way.

A poor teacher in the Houston Independent School District is undergoing this right now. So if anyone's reading, let it be known that it's become quite clear here at Rice that they are statistically very dubious. We're switching to what should have been done in the first place. Sure the students can evaluate, as if they were customers responding to a survey. But what needs to happen is for another teacher to go in that classroom and see the teaching.


Anonymous said...

You should see ours up here... Questions include:
Did the instructor use humor to make the lectures more interesting?
Was the instructor friendly to individual students?
Were the instructor's own lecture notes neat looking?

Because my job teaching the Middle Passage, say, is all about me being hilarious, friendly, and neat.

Anonymous said...

We've got one that asks, "Does the teacher arrive promptly and is his/her appearance clean and groomed?" I suppose this is one question that is more or less black and white, of course