In a blog entry titled
What’s wrong with academia, part two hundred and twenty-four, the pseudonymous B**ch PhD complains that the student evaluation is typically
the only regular feedback [professors] get on any aspect of our jobs. Let me tell you, her entry, as well as many of the 110 comments, gave me the willies—because of how much I could identify with the sentiments. When I was teaching, student evaluations could twist me in knots for days—maybe because my personality tends more toward the Woody Allen than the Clint Eastwood, but maybe because the circumstances surrounding student evaluations make it almost impossible not to be neurotic about them.
Here’s more from her entry:
Is anyone else bothered that our primary feedback on our work comes from children? I’m talking, of course, about course evaluations. But if you think about it for a minute, it’s true: most jobs, you complete a project, someone tells you good job (or should). Moreover, the people who observe and evaluate your work are peers and superiors. In academia, the people who observe and evaluate you on a day-to-day basis are distracted 18-year olds who don’t understand what your job actually is.
Even worse, for the first few years of my teaching career, I was evaluated by distracted 15-year-olds. The evaluation forms were lousy, too. I have to give the school some credit, though, because they eventually gave us a choice of whether or not to have the students fill them out.