Saturday, June 13, 2009


Exams finished yesterday and I expect evaluations to start coming in.  The students evaluate me according to 15 criteria and can leave comments if they choose.  The evaluation is entirely anonymous and students must either evaluate me or agree to give up the chance to do so before seeing their grades.

Some students have jumped the gun.  Ten students in seven classes have already posted their evaluations.  Some are great; in one first year class, two students both gave me 100% and one left a kindly but poorly spelled comment:
"브라이언딘 교수님 즐거웠고 2학기에도 브라운딘 교수님 이랍니다"
which translates to, "Bra slang [tin] professor to be joyful the brown [tin] professor [lap] is the [ni] in as much as 2 semester"
I honestly love the way the student spelled  my name correctly once; it reminds me of essays where I had to write the word (pre-spellcheck days) "height" more than once.  I would write it 'ei' one time and 'ie' the next.  One of them had to be right.
Also, I love the way my name is slang for 'Bra'.  I guess I shouldn't chuckle when I read the names "Yoo-seok" or "beom-seok".

That isn't the reason I titled this post 'ouch' though.  One student gave me 20% across the board.  This was a nursing student who also wrote a short evaluation in class.  Those evals were mostly positive although reports are I spoke too fast in class.  I don't know who the student is, and I don't want to know, but I am hurt by such an evaluation.  Especially when items I am responsible for are ranked the same as ones I do not control.  "follows a clear class and course plan" which I control and "kept the full 15 week schedule" which is totally out of my control: both were rated at 20%  Also, the nursing students have a high enough English ability to leave a detailed English comment and this one didn't.  It is just a drive-by snark, but it hurts all the same.

I'm never going to match the Big Hominid!

1 comment:

Kevin said...

I get the impression that you're a great teacher, and the reason you're writing about such an evaluation is because this is far, far from the norm. I've had my share of dissatisfied students, so I sympathize when evals like this appear.

I'm sure you'll agree that there's no reason to worry when a single student gives such an eval; if you're teaching 100 students a semester, and only four or five give such evals, you're doing perfectly fine. A boss who makes a big deal of such complaints is crazy or stupid or both. I hope your bosses are sane and maintain proper perspective.

Because you're the type of teacher who cares about the quality of your teaching, I'm sure you'd be worried if a pattern of low evals began to emerge, and if the comments written by different students tended to center on the same general complaint. If, for example, you're teaching 100 students and 30 of them mention that you're speaking too fast, then maybe it's time to reevaluate your pace. But again, if this sort of complaint comes from only a tiny percentage of the total number of students, you have nothing to worry about.

I realize, in writing all this, that you don't really need to hear this because you already know it, but if some of your readers are Korean students, they might be interested to have some perspective on what teachers say to each other in such situations.

If you're like me, you have your teacherly pride, and low ratings, on the rare occasions when they appear, are scandalous. It's good that you're venting this.