On a Scale of 1-5, How Useful Was This Course Evaluation?

(BIG) KIDS WILL BE KIDS? Course evaluations—or perhaps, the students taking them—are under fire again. An experiment by researchers at Lander University found that a majority of students in their study responded affirmatively to deliberately-planted questions describing outlandish teaching scenarios in their courses. The fact that students responded to those scenarios as if they were legitimate suggests either a major systemic problem with the quality of instruction—or with how seriously students take these surveys.

Among the responses: 69 percent of undergraduates in the experiment agreed “the instructor took roll at the beginning, middle and end of every class meeting;” 24 percent claimed “the instructor was late or absent for all class meetings;” and 28 percent said “the instructor never even attempted to answer any student questions related to the course,” according to Times Higher Education (THE).

The researchers also asked a separate group of students how seriously they took their course evaluations. While 76 percent said they sometimes took the process seriously, only one in five said they did so all the time. However, student respondents also made clear their own skepticism that the results would lead to desired change. The study comes at a time when student evaluations of teaching are in the spotlight, as more evidence questions the efficacy of the common practice.

Editor's Note: This blurb has been edited for clarification purposes.

GET THE LATEST HIGHER ED NEWS.Be the first to know, with our weekly newsletter.