T. E. Roberts, Instructor II • USF Sarasota-Manatee

Course Evaluations By Students • Fall 2003 through Summer 2017

 

Page updated 25 August 2017

 

Links are provided near the bottom of the second column for evaluations from individual semesters as single PDF files. The most recent is highlighted in yellow. Except for minor editing for formatting and PDF creation, these match exactly the content of the original USF evaluation results.

 

Each evaluation consists of two parts:

1) statistical results of a questionnaire about the course (“best” = 5.0), and

2) anonymous comments by individual students.

 

Beginning with the Summer 2008 evaluations, I sometimes provide a brief response to selected student comments in order to address a student’s confusion or to correct an obvious misunderstanding.

 

Certain realities remain constant through the student comments over the years. The students who believe they benefited from a course tended to:

1) read and carefully follow instructions

2) try hard to improve their work

3) communicate regularly with the instructor

4) regard instructor feedback as a professional, not personal, review of their work, and

5) treat the learning experience, the instructor, and their classmates with respect.

 

A NOTE ABOUT ANONYMOUS STUDENT COMMENTS

Anonymity obviously is a two-edged sword. It provides confidentiality but may also violate an individual’s right to due process.

 

Students are asked to be fair, honest, and unbiased in their appraisals of the course and the instructor. However, based on research conducted by me and other faculty members over the years, it is obvious that most students who write negative appraisals have never sought individual conferences with the instructor. Many of them are simply disgruntled with the grade they earned and, instead of taking responsibility for their own performance, like to blame circumstances, fate, the instructor, or anything else that lets them off the hook.

 

In my judgment, the university has instituted a well-considered process for the filing of formal student grievances. The first step is for a student to confer directly and personally with his or her instructor. This usually results in the settling of any misunderstanding, and this procedure should in fact apply in any disagreement between a student and an instructor.

 

In the absence of such a conference (especially in online courses where most communications occur via email), it is easy for a student to feel slighted because he or she is simply unhappy with a grade. This happens occasionally with people who think of themselves as “A students” but who earn a B+ or other, in their view, unsatisfactory grade. If such a student has never bothered to discuss the evaluation of an assignment at the time it is submitted and graded, the resentment at the end of a term over an “unfair” final grade may lead to an unfounded negative appraisal of an instructor or a course.

 

In fairness, the student should first accept individual responsibility for the outcome of his or her performance in a course. This is one reason that I emphasize that a student EARNS a grade based on performance. As instructor, I DO NOT “GIVE” a grade. The following passage from each syllabus should be kept in mind:

 

Advice About Grades: A grievance will not automatically or necessarily result in a change of grade for an assignment or a course. In more than four decades of teaching thousands of college students, two of my students have filed formal grievances (1974 and 1997), and in both cases my original grade and teaching approach were upheld by a grievance committee of students and faculty.

I take seriously my duty to be not only a competent and effective teacher but also to help students succeed, not fail. If you believe I am not meeting your objectives as a student, talk with me. I will listen to your perspective and seek a mutually satisfying solution to problems. Any student who writes an anonymous negative review of my teaching or course content at the end of a term but who has never talked with me in person, by phone, or by email, about specific issues lacks credibility. Such a person demonstrates immaturity, ignorance, and indifference regarding professional and ethical standards of conduct.

The time to focus on your grade, if you worry about such a thing, is during the term, not at the end after you receive the final grade calculation. Students who complain about final grades but who have made little if any sincere effort to excel on each assignment or to communicate with me individually should not be surprised at a weak final grade. You have several written assignments and a final exam to build a satisfactory final grade. You also have the option of receiving a detailed markup and performing a complete revision of all but the final assignment.

Contrary to many students’ view, a grade is earned by you, not given by me. Your job is to perform as well as possible. My job is to evaluate your performance fairly, based on experience, professional judgment, and workplace expectations. There is nothing personal in this process; it is simply a matter of defining, applying, and meeting professional criteria. I am not judging your appearance, gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, philosophy, politics, religion, personal values, or social status. In fact, because all of my teaching is conducted online, I am not even aware of most of those characteristics. I am interested only in your academic performance and your demonstrated improvement thereof.

 

 

Please don’t ask for a grade to be “rounded” to a higher mark. The grading system is designed to record your achievement accurately to three decimal places, so the effect of rounding has already been considered. Grades are calculated by the Canvas Learning Management System, but if you believe a mathematical error has occurred, notify me immediately.

Read carefully and repeatedly the definitions of grades in this syllabus so you have a clear understanding of the standards that students are expected to meet. If you are confused, simply ask me for clarification. Don’t substitute guesswork for knowledge.

 

As a faculty member, I take neither positive nor negative evaluations personally, but I do try to use them to improve the course presentations in the future. The following statement sums up well the shallowness and unscientific nature of course evaluations by students: “Basing education research and instructor performance assessment entirely on student evaluations is like basing clinical drug trials entirely on patient reports of how they feel.” (http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2008/08/08/carey)

 

USEFUL REFLECTIONS FROM THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

I recommend the Feb. 20, 2011 article from The Chronicle of Higher Education titled “A Perfect Storm in Undergraduate Education, Part I,” which discusses student assessments and student learning challenges (see this link). Another relevant article is this commentary titled “From Students, A Misplaced Sense of Entitlement” (March 27, 2011). This Chronicle article is similarly useful: “Student Evaluations, Grade Inflation, and Declining Student Effort” (June 19, 2010). And the most recent Chronicle article I recommend offers an interesting perspective from a teacher who becomes a student: “Professor as Student: A Gym Perspective” (Aug. 9, 2011) -- note in particular the yellow-highlighted comments following this article; they sum up a view of teaching that I find very similar to my own.

 

MY JUNIOR-SENIOR COURSES TAUGHT OVER THE YEARS

 

  • ENC 3242, Technical Communication for Majors (first presented in Fall 2011)
  • ENC 3250 (formerly 3213), Professional Writing – recently celebrated my 65th presentation of this course (a total of around 1,625 students)
  • ENC 3310, Expository Writing
  • ENC 4212: Professional & Technical Editing (first offered in Spring 2009)
  • ENC 4260, Advanced Technical Writing
  • ENC 4311, Advanced Composition
  • ENC 4268: PTC Senior Seminar (for Professional & Technical Communication majors only; capstone course first offered in Spring 2010)
  • ENC 4906, Independent Study in PTC
  • ENC 4946: PTC Internship -- evaluations from interns are usually published separately; see THIS LINK for intern reports and details about the internship program)

 

DOWNLOADABLE EVALUATIONS BY MY USFSM STUDENTS

The compressed (zipped) file below contains evaluations for every term from Fall 2003 through Fall 2016. The most recent evaluations (Spring 2016, Summer 2016, Fall 2016, and Spring 2017) are highlighted in yellow.

 

Fall03-thru-Summer17.zip (44.6MB, posted 25 Aug 2017)

 

MOST RECENT:

Roberts,T_Summer16.pdf

Roberts,T_Fall16.pdf

Roberts,T_Spring17.pdf

Roberts,T_Summer17.pdf

 

NOTE: For numeric evaluation scores of all USF faculty, see: https://fair.usf.edu/EvaluationMart/

 

For evaluations of Mr. Roberts at RateMyProfessors.com, see
http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=868969

 

To contact Mr. Roberts, please send email to tr[at]sar.usf.edu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2017, T. E. Roberts (tr[at]sar.usf.edu). All rights reserved. Updated 25 Aug 2017. Duplication, copying, or re-posting of any text or links on this page requires explicit written permission from T. E. Roberts, Instructor II, Univ. of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.