Course evaluations carry significant weight

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As the semester comes to a close, students are given the opportunity to evaluate their professors and their experiences in class via Occidental’s course evaluation process.

Effective feedback allows professors to redesign their courses to better meet students’ needs and achieve students’ goals. Because professors rarely teach the same class back to back — most classes are only offered once a year — professors have time to adjust syllabi. Students have the potential to improve the courses they have taken, so that future students can have a better experience. Course evaluations also play a large role in faculty decisions regarding the rehiring of non-tenure professors.

Given the considerable influence of these evaluations, we believe that the current system should be revised to make the process more efficient and more representative of student experiences.

Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs Hanna Spinosa has worked to pilot an online course evaluation process as a potential solution. According to Spinosa, the majority of the 380 students who participated in the fall pilot (60 percent) preferred an online evaluation to a paper form. Spinosa hopes that the program, which received 90 percent participation from students in the politics, Cultural Studies Program (CSP), biology, geology, philosophy, kinesiology, Art History and Visual Arts (AHVA), economics and religious studies departments in fall 2013 and spring 2014, will be completely implemented by fall 2014.

It is our hope that the administration, seeing the success of this project, will adopt an online evaluation system that allows students to spend more time on their course evaluations. In the meantime, we remind students to take advantage of the important impact that their responses can have on professor and peer experiences at Occidental.

This editorial represents the collective opinion of The Occidental Weekly Editorial Board. Each week, the editorial board will publish its viewpoint on a matter relevant to the Occidental community.