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I agree. The project begs an honest, objective input from students. That's
not what will happen in every case.

I found only one posting about a teacher I know, and it was clearly sour
grapes. I hope the thing fails due to unpopularity. I'd like to continue
thinking that most students will be disinclined to use it.

I think this is part and parcel of the current fad of irrelevant public
polling: "Should the FED raise interest rates?" "Should Atlanta have
signed 'A.C.' Carter?" "Is irradiation of fruit safe?" The correct answer
for most people is "I've no idea! I haven't enough information or
experience to have a valid opinion." But the continual asking of such
questions encourages people to think that their opinion is valuable, even
if they are grossly uninformed.

People love to give their opinions. It's a form of entertainment. (These
postings are, I suppose, examples.) The information that so-and-so many
people have opined such-and-such may be interesting, or even useful. But
it probably has little or no bearing on the original question.

John M. Flanigan <[log in to unmask]>   The equation is the final arbiter.
Assistant Professor, Mathematics                    --Werner Heisenberg
http://naio.kcc.hawaii.edu/jflanigan  The scoreboard is the final arbiter.
Kapi'olani Community College                        --Bill Walton
4303 Diamond Head Road                History is the final arbiter.
Honolulu HI  96816                                  --Edward Gibbon
(808) 734-9371                        Nature is the final arbiter.
                                                    --Barry Commoner

On Fri, 4 Aug 2000, Barbara Putman wrote:

> I'm new to the list and hate for my first posting to be on a negative note, but I feel compelled to respond to the issue of on line course/faculty evals.  I have no problem with being evaluated (in fact I usually ask my students to share their thoughts about me and the class much more frequently than any standardized eval. forms require) but I do have concerns that evaluations without information on the individual's participation/effort/performance in the class can be misleading and downright irresponsible. Who would have access to the site?  How would the information be used? Would novice student-users be counseled that these opinions may not have a firm foundation? Does the posting have any way to track the students' performance in the course and/or gpa?  I know that responsible supervisors take into account the overall performance/attitude of "outliers" and take their opinions with a grain of salt, so I assume this information would not be used to make retention decisions. !
>  My concerns are not only for the professional reputations of educators, but also for what I see as a dangerous practice of feeding a passive consumer-orientation among our students to the point where some feel little to no responsibility for active participation in their own learning experiences. This is not sour grapes.  My college course evals are always strong but fairly meaningless to me as far as influencing my future performance.  "She's a great teacher" can only stroke one's ego for so long. However, the formative evals. I conduct during the course with responsible, thoughtful students make a difference  in the course because the studnets are not merely sharing platitudes that "grade the teacher", instead, they are problem-solving  along with me to adjust the course in order to maximize their OWN learning experience. 'Seems like I got off on a long tanget there, but I do think it's all part of the same issue...anyone agree?
>