Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What are your favorite responses on evaluations?

What are your favorite student complaints? For the earnest among us, I am not talking about the well-chosen AND merited critiques that help us grow as teachers. I mean the genuine asshattery and WTF? momemnts.

Of mine, some brilliant comments stand out.

"The prof is clearly biased; she spent way too much time on women and not enough on real history." (Even after your jaw hits the floor about women's actions not constituting "real" history, beware: this was an eval in a course entitled "Premodern Women".)

"I don't get why historians have to talk about argument and I don't want to write papers in class or outside of class. I just want to learn the facts."

"My other prof at (insert local tech college) never cared if I missed class. Picky Historian got all bent out of shape because I missed two classes." (In a course that meets 1x / week, dear, that's 1/4 of the entire class.)

"I have five children and I can't possibly read a whole book and then write a paper about it. Picky Historian needs to remember that we have lives." (The book in question is a standard monograph used in many undergraduate classes, and is a mindbogglingly huge 162 pages of text.)

What are your "favorite" WTF????? moments in evaluations?


  1. From one of my sophomore lit classes: "Stop being so lame."

    Gee, thanks. I appreciate that well-thought-out evaluation of my teaching methods. That will help me immensely in tweaking my syllabus for the next batch of whiny, entitled, that's-too-much-reading students.

  2. Our old evals asked the student's view of the statement, "The instructor is knowledgeable about the course content."

    My favorite response to this was, "probably."

    Such a vote of confidence, from a freshman no less.

  3. "I like my women like I like my whiskey: 12 years old and mixed up with coke." This was in the "free response" section for a course on "Women in Literature." ... yeah.

  4. For a gen-ed fulfilling art history survey:

    "As an engineer, I must say this is the most pointless class I have ever taken."

  5. Oh man, where do I start? Here are a few from recent semesters...

    From a senior level (4000) British Lit Seminar:

    "There is a lot of reading. I know this is an English class but it should be kept in mind we have more than one class. Besides work and other responsibilities just plain reading sometimes puts us to sleep"

    And these gems from a Humanities I course:

    "Good teacher but I hate hate hate the class. But he made me like it as much as I could."

    "He goes into a lot of detail which is good if you like that sort of thing."

    "He is ginuely [sic] interesting in this stuff, so I pritended [sic] to listen to him so he wouldn't feel so bad about hisself [sic]."

    "Too much reading. No one did it anyway."

    "Less reading and more explanations. Actually less explanations too."

    "Showed some enthusiasm."

  6. "teach better, expect less, grade fairly"

    Notice how #2 probably explains why #1 & #3 are such issues with the student?

    Most of us strive for #1 -- it's the reason evals are handed out to begin with! So that's reasonable.

    #2 is just an admission that the student couldn't meet my already watered-down standards, thus leading to the suggestion that the student's mis-perception of what is "fair" has led to sour grapes over his/her performance in class (#3). I *must* not have been fair if s/he didn't get an A (or B or C or D or a pony or whatever)!

  7. Two stand out:

    One term I did a lot of activities where I had everyone sit on the floor (this was a freshman comp course). I had all these new pedagogy strategies I wanted to try, and the room had tables, not individual desks, so sitting on the floor mad it easier to see everyone. I was slammed in the evals for that. Which is fine, but if it was such a big fucking deal why didn't *anyone* say something to me during those 9 weeks?

    Another eval said my clothing was offensive. I started wearing camis and stopped reading evals after that.

  8. My favorite: "he tests over what he thinks that we should know instead of what we actually know."

    (I was marked "unfair" in the "does your professor grade fairly" category)

  9. Long long ago in a faraway job at Customer Comes First College, I had a student who missed deadline after deadline. Newbie that I was, I patiently coached her out of her writer's block, accepting the work when she got it done. On my evaluation from her (handwriting easy to recognize): "She should be stricter about deadlines."

  10. "He's such a flaming homosexual I just couldn't pay attention to him in class."

    I dowsed my torch immediately after reading the rest of that student's "evaluation" of the course.

  11. I stopped reading comments on evaluations years ago. I figure my chair reads them and will let me know if most of a class comment "reeled in late and reeking of gin 3 classes in 4". But they just tied me in knots.

  12. "What would you change about this class?"

    Less clothes.

  13. When I was a grad student, I got this gem:
    "The man's a pimp, what can I say?"

    I'd like to claim it as a compliment, but being a gawky, gangly, and ginger haired, it was probably a joke.

  14. I used to hide my evals away from myself for about a month, then read them, fearing the worst. After my third year teaching, I said screw it, and stopped reading them, and I'm much, much happier. That was a few semesters back, and I'm not going to start reading them again any time soon. Why? Because students write them as fast as humanly possible because they get to leave as soon as they've handed in the form, and because frankly, THEY DON'T KNOW SHIT. Sorry, but it's true. Gee, I sorta feel like I'M more qualified to evaluate a bunch of know-nothings in what is typically their first semester of community college, than they are qualified to evaluate ME. What is their expertise? What is their academic experience? Do they have any sort of CONTEXT in which they can evaluate me? Hardly. Just let the chair read them and do what he wants to about the comments. It's too stressful to read them and start battling in your own mind against the horse shit written by anonymous students you'll NEVER get to challenge face-to-face.

  15. For one adjuncting job, the department had the flakes do not just the U's eval but also a super-special departmental one. I had to go into the chair's office and we read those together.

    Fun, fun, fun! Not.

    Sadly, the little jerks reserved the nastier comments for the U's forms, so the chair never really understood why I really quit.

  16. I know I'm a little late in this reply, but I took a few days to vacation during my summer "off." Here's one of my favorites:

    "It shouldnt [sic] matter on attendne [sic] and If [sic] you show up or not. I am paying to go here. Shouldnt [sic] lose points ove [sic] it."

    That's right. I forgot that they pay to not play.

  17. My favorite was:
    "She should prepare her powerpoints in advance."

    This in an art-intensive humanities course for which I have been honing my very elegant art powerpoints for 3 years.

  18. For a discussion section I TA'd: "all we did was talk about the readings."

    Well... yeah...

  19. The dumbest comment I ever got was from the Dean herself: "It might help if you reassure your students that you use notes during the lecture. Try holding your notes up so that everyone can see that you use notes."


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