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Course evaluations let students voice true opinions anonymously

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Photo by Luke Nankivell, photo editor

With only a few days left in the fall semester and classes coming to an end, students are being asked to weigh in on how well they feel courses fulfilled their intentions.  The first round of evaluations went out the week of Nov. 27, many students will be filling out their evaluations in the semester’s remaining four days of class.

“The surveys are sent to a company in Atlanta,” said Assistant Dean of the College of Business and Public Administration Randall Blum. “The company then types up each survey, tallies the scores (for the various questions), and returns them to the professor, who now can’t even see your handwriting. They’re really used to let you improve the quality of what you get for your money.”

Each class evaluation offers the same questions with scaled answers that indicate how well objectives were achieved, satisfaction with course or professor and individual growth from the course. Students are also given a comment box in which to elaborate on any comments or issues — or to leave a name, if desired.

These particular surveys have become commonplace in Drake’s academic schedule, usually given in the final weeks of a semester.

“We’ve been asking the students for their opinions on courses for as long as I’ve been here,” said associate professor of mathematics and computer science and department chair Lawrence Naylor, who has taught at Drake for over 30 years.

“Once the results come back, the professors get a look at them before the department chair goes over the results of the department, who then sends them to that school’s dean,” Naylor said. “They definitely help the administrators see what, or who, needs improvement.”

While upperclassmen may be used to the questionnaires, first-year students are often much less accustomed to voicing their opinions on their classes in such a manner or with the same level of anonymity.

“I really like that I’m able to show what I think of the classes I have taken,” said first-year pre-pharmacy major Zachary Messer. “There were a few classes of mine that I felt needed more structure and focus, and besides letting my professor know in person, I’m glad I can also use the evaluation to help make sure something is actually done about my concerns.”

The questions cover a broad range of qualities and facets of a traditionally “good” course, from how one’s artistic abilities have improved to the strength relationships formed between students and faculty to fulfilling curriculum and achieving class goals.

“Some of the questions weren’t really relevant to the classes. My creative capacities haven’t really been changed by my accounting class, for example,” said first-year business management major Carter Biondi. “At least it lets our voices be heard by the higher-ups.”

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