I’m going to be one of the first people to tell you to participate in something that is designed to make the system that we use daily better. I emphasize people to vote, to take part in school surveys and to be a part of improving our lives but when it comes to the teacher reviews at Lakehead I refuse to waste my time. Students like myself are tired of filing out these forms and seeing nothing done to try and improve the quality of professors at the school or remove those that consistently receive poor reviews from students. I can name a couple teachers that I fill out the forms for but that is because they are good teachers. I enjoy their classes and the way that they educate me but I refuse to make a review about teachers who have no interest in teacher, perform poorly at their jobs or have no actual idea about the content they are teaching. Why? I’m the one that started talking about how participating actively supports the improvement of our education and government systems. Professors at Lakehead are NOT required by the university to disclose the content of those teacher evaluations. That means if a teacher is rated poorly by his/her students for things like poor content knowledge, sexism or racism in the classroom or poor teaching quality they don’t have to disclose it. Imagine getting a poor job review and basically saying well it doesn’t matter because that one is staying with me. Wouldn’t you yourself pump yourself up and push the good reviews over the bad ones? Not having to disclose the issues that a teacher is presenting means that the opinions of students truly is not important to the education system. One has to think that there are means of pulling bad teachers but different numbers right or means?
Most students don’t know that their evaluations mean nothing. In order for the negatively to truly make it to the decision makers you need to make a presentation to the dean of the specific department or you need to provide an email of the account of the struggles to him. I’m sure that a large population of students would be uncomfortable with dealing with this individual based on their concerns. The evaluations are supposed to be a indirect means of presenting to the decision makers their feeling on their education. In order for Lakehead students to truly feel like their opinions are being heard the evaluations NEED to be sent to department heads good or bad.
You would think that there are other means of rooting out bad teachers right? Marks would be bad, attendance would be bad or large numbers of students would drop a class in order to protest the class? Marks can be and often are inflated in order to fall into line with the university requirements. Some teachers may give bonus marks, some may give marks through attendance or participation and many teachers give bell curves. This means that the quality of marks is often representative of the quality of education (but not always) but that teachers are able to fluctuate their numbers in order to present a better image. These do not accurate represent the education that students are getting and worse they allow teachers with poor standards to preserve their positions until it is almost impossible to remove them from teaching.
Attendance is often as indicator of how students perceive a class or a professor. Our largest lecture hall holds 200 students and for teachers who are viewed to be positive, educational and understanding their classes are well attended. Now as time goes on there is an attendance drop but typically a large portion attend the classes. Teachers who are viewed to be uneducated, unmotivated or perceived negatively will see this attendance drop significantly early on. I can account for this happening in 2 classes I have taken with the same teacher. Both times in large lecture halls with full student capacity. The class attendance quickly dropped off and this is representative of the poor ability to hold a class, present oneself and the topic with confidence that this individual has. The main lecture hall quickly dropped to less then 1/2 of the class attending by 5 weeks in and around 1/4 (50 or less students) close to the end of the semester. This is directly repeated in his current class and this is a direct result of his inability to teach the content accurately or with confidence. Lakehead should consider this to be a more important factor and the causes behind it when they come to consider teachers and who they intend to educate.
Students dropping a class is one way to see how a teacher is doing but its not always an option for many students. Many times classes may be mandatory for a student in order to graduate and he/she will be forced to sit through the class whether he agrees with it or not. A large drop rate may be an indicator though of students who don’t agree with or are struggling due to the means/method in which a teacher conducts himself. I know for a fact that a class I was in has seen an incredibly drop rate as a result of the way the teacher taught the class and her methods. While I perceived her to be very well educated and knowledgeable on the content of the class she seemed to think that we had the same degree of knowledge. Evaluations of testing materials were done as a means to drop individuals from the class and as a result she has had a large drop rate in her class. In this case its not about the content of the class or the teacher but how she conducts herself and her marking that has pushed a large number of students away. This should be a red flag for the university as it is not the job of professors to play games with numbers or to play hardball until they have a small chosen group. It is their job to educate the masses and provide them with the information they need in order to make the world a better place.
I guess by getting the information out there that the process Lakehead has is broken and is in need of repair. I urge Lakehead students to avoid the evaluation system and take the comments directly to those that make the decisions. In order for us to make the school better we need to change it from the inside and put pressure on the decision makers to make that change.