Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The internet age and the age of gimme: an education issue

I find myself talking about “back in my day” sometimes; this is scary because I am only middle aged, but things seem to have changed in education so quickly. The tools students have at their disposal can do so much, but they also seem to take away a lot as well.

Social media has also allowed students to publicly vent about a perceived injustices, and what is worse (in my opinion) is that they can do anonymously. I am not a fan of anonymous feedback, especially in the professional world.

Rate my professor, I am sure started off as a good idea because after all, it helps to know what you are getting in to; or so we thought…

End of course evaluations are never the best way to evaluate professors because not only are they usually highly subjective, but you usually only here from the angry students, and their feedback is rarely constructive in nature. Rate my professor, is 100 times worse.

I was recently told a story by a colleague about how he was approached by two students at the end of his first class, and the student said to him “hey professor we feel you went a little too fast, so I hope this will not affect our grade. We would hate for your really good rating on rate my professor to go down”. Sounds like a threat doesn’t it? That’s because it is and there is no other way to take this. In the street these would have bee fighting words, but in academia, it can apparently mean the difference between a job and no job.

Since when did we use social media to rate professionals? Since when did teaching become a popularity contest? Do you realize that on rate my professor they can also rate the attractiveness or “hotness” of a teacher? How is this remotely objective and what does any of that have to do with learning?

Great teaching is an art form, and every teacher can always improve, but at what point do we hold students accountable for their lack of participation in the teaching process? At what point do we treat students like adults and value the teacher for the job they do, and not for their rating?

If you are fortunate to teach in a place that values the evidence of your scholarship and teaching, feel blessed; if you work in place that actually takes rate my professor seriously, well I am sorry.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

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