As the semester draws to an end, many things are piling up on students. Like deadlines for final projects and papers along with hours and hours of studying, for instance.
During this hectic run to the finish line, it can be easy to forget about completing K-State’s TEVAL Student Ratings.
Departments are required to administer forms for this method of course evaluation, facilitated by the K-State Teaching and Learning Center, for many different reasons. For instance Anne Longmuir, associate professor and director of graduate studies for the English department, said TEVALs are important in assessing professor’s work.
“(TEVALs) are given because we actually need them for our reappointment and promotion to tenure track,” Longmuir said. “Even once you’re tenured, you still have to share your TEVALs with your department so that they assess your work. This information is used for merit reasons, and to help decide whether or not a teacher should be put up for faculty awards in the college level and the university level.”
Carmen Schober, graduate student in English, works as a graduate teaching assistant. Schooner said TEVALs are a way for students to assess classes.
“TEVALs are given to give students the chance to assess the class and their instructor anonymously,” Schober said. “Ideally, TEVALs provide the means for students to reflect on their classroom experience and give some feedback that instructors can use for future classes.”
Students may think that the TEVALs are just read by the professor and shoved in a drawer. When asked who she believes reads them, Sydney Rathjen, junior in animal sciences and industry, said, “I would guess no one.”
Despite Rathjen’s beliefs, that is not the truth. For instance, when a teacher is up for tenure, their TEVALs have to be read and go through many different channels.
“They end up being read not just by the instructor, but by all the tenured faculty members in your department, and they are read through the layers of administration through the college and the university,” Longmuir said. “So they are not just seen by the instructor, but by a whole lot of different people.”
TEVALs are read for more than just the tenure track.
“In the Expository Writing Program, we share the cumulative scores with our program director after they’ve been processed,” Schober said.
Once they have been put through all the appropriate channels, it comes down to what they do for the instructor. For some instructors, TEVALs are a way to know what is and isn’t working in their classroom.
“I care about what students think of the class and me as a teacher,” Schober said. “It’s helpful when students affirm that certain aspects of the class are working, and it is also good for me to hear from them what isn’t working so I can improve that for the next class.”
The TEVALs are not just used to find weaknesses in a instructor’s methods, however, just as they are not the only thing instructors have to show when they are being assessed.
“Instructors write self reflections on their teaching,” Longmuir said. “But we also look at the course materials and we look at people’s syllabuses and use teacher observations.”
The TEVALs would not be affective at all if students didn’t fill them out. Nowadays with the option of hard copies and online versions, however, it is becoming difficult to see if students fill them out at all.
Alex Lessard, sophomore in mass communications, said students don’t fill TEVALs out because they think their feedback does not matter.
“Some students don’t fill them out because they think their feedback won’t matter and/or nothing will be done about it,” Lessard said.
It is important to note that the hard copies are more likely to be filled out than the online versions, and that the TEVAL Student Ratings System is an effective method in keeping a instructor honest.
“I think the TEVAL system is very effective,” Longmuir said. “I prefer the paper version, because it is all done at the same time and it’s sort of a snapshot of the students at that time. We’re asking students to take 10-15 minutes to do this. We are not asking students to take their own time to fill out the TEVALs. We’re giving you time in class. You also get a higher response rate.”
Whether or not a student takes the time to fill them out, they are important for the education system.
“I think it is helpful for teacher to hear from their students what’s working and what isn’t,” Schober said. “I try to check in with my students a lot during the semester, but their responses are different when they can reflect and share their thoughts with some anonymity.”
Students need to realize that even though at times it may not seem like it, their voices are getting heard.
“I think students have a higher say in the TEVALs then they realize,” Longmuir said. “They really impact whether or not we get teaching awards or merit raises. I worry students think I am the only one who reads them and that I just shove them into a drawer and then that’s it. But I have to hold on to them, they are an important record of my teaching.”
It is highly recommended that students take a little time out of their busy schedules as the semester comes to a close to fill out the TEVALs. Though it does take some time and thought, in the end your voice is being heard.