Campus News

A Closer Look at Course Evaluations

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MISHAWAKA—As the fall semester closes, Bethel students are undoubtedly receiving a slew of emails, reminding them to fill out the evaluations for the courses they’ve just about completed. Some students are ready to jump on the course evaluations to make their opinions on their courses known - for better or worse. Others prefer to approach the evaluations at a slower pace, giving them time to collect their thoughts and accurately impart their feedback unto their professors. 

Though it is not exactly a mystery, it is not explicitly stated what the evaluations are being used for, if anything. The most indication students receive that their professors can see their responses is the promise that all the responses will remain anonymous. How, then, do some of these professors use all this data? 

Barb Bellefeuille, Vice President for Academic Services, said, “Professors review the feedback and when patterns are detected they make adjustments. Deans review these course evaluations with the professor helping them detect concerns and strengths. For instance, when there is consistent praise about an assignment or activity, a professor will make sure it stays in the rotation.” 

It is also important to mention that these student responses are not the only way classes and professors are evaluated.  

Bellefeuille said, “Deans evaluate professor’s work by observing the professors in class.” 

Naturally, it’s different for every professor, but a few of them shared just what they do with their reviews. 

Stephanie Carlson, Professor of Psychology, said, “I take them into consideration, and when I see a pattern, I sometimes will make changes to my courses to satisfy students.” Carlson went on to say, “... certainly our bosses look at them as well to see if there are any concerns or patterns that are showing up.” 

Maralee Crandon, Associate Professor of English/Communication, said, “The fewer times I’ve taught a course, the more quickly I look at them, but I don’t look at them right away... so that I don’t have any idea who it is, because I can recognize voice, and I don’t want to do that right away.” 

The only question left, now, is why? One reason is because of how professors, and colleges, themselves, are accredited.  

“Bethel is required by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC - our regional accreditor without which we could not disperse financial aid) to evaluate courses and have an in-depth plan for ongoing assessment of quality,” Bellefeuille said.  

So, not only are course evaluations important for the professors here at Bethel, and for the university, but they are necessary for the students of Bethel, as well. Without these evaluations being performed, Bethel University would likely not be able to disperse the financial aid it does. Keeping all this in mind while filling out those course evaluations is of great importance, on several levels. 

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