Course evaluations go online, spark debate


By Richard Larson, Opinion Editor

Before students can take their finals and feel the unbridled joy that is winter break, course evaluations block the road to freedom.
For freshmen, you may not realize what torture waits for you at the end of every semester. A course evaluation is a one-page, front and back form that gives the opportunity for students to reflect on a course and instructor.
Whether or not these evaluations serve the purpose they are intended for is another controversy. Some students use this opportunity to grill the professor for giving too much homework, not speaking audible English or making their tests obscenely difficult. A typical reaction to course evaluations is awarding the instructor and course the same response for each question, as the majority of the form follows a bubble-in format. This obviously skews any results.
For the first time, course evaluations go digital by being made available on the homepage of Blackboard. Not all of UNO’s colleges have adopted the new option, but students have had varying responses.
The positive side of course evaluations in class is how students are more likely to complete the forms. While the possibility of students handing in a blank evaluation is a reality, ample time is allotted during class and the instructor is required to leave the room. A selected student takes the completed evaluations to the college’s office, contained in a large envelope to provide privacy and higher likelihood of students to be honest.
The negative side of course evaluations in class rests in the debate of how it takes time out of class that could be dedicated to reviewing for the final exam or finishing up on projects and papers.
While it saves class time, the idea of completing course evaluations online presents an interesting conflict. How do students feel about their privacy if they are completing an evaluation through their personal Blackboard account? It also may reduce the likelihood that students will even fill out the form if no one is forcing them to do it in class.
As of now, it’s hard to tell if all colleges will move exclusively to online course evaluations. Until then, continue your strategy for filling out the dreaded forms. Are you honest? Do you reward or roast the instructor? Do you fill out the written portion? Remember courses and instructors only improve if you contribute accurate feedback.