OPINION: The 5Cs should implement mid-semester course evaluations for all courses

An evaluation for a professor
(Clare Martin • The Student Life)

Last November, during the completion of my first semester of college, I began to notice that my inbox was flooding with emails about end-of-course evaluation forms and reminder upon reminder to fill them out. After seeing phrases like “tenure” and “instructor promotion” interspersed in the emails, I realized that it was important, and maybe even courteous for me to submit the evaluations.

However, I propose that the 5C staff and administration administer an optional mid-term course evaluation. This would create a forum for students to submit their feedback during a point in the semester that would actually prove beneficial. Instead of just having an end-of-course evaluation that takes place around finals week — one of the busiest, if not the busiest, times during the semester — students need an optional chance to give feedback earlier on.

As a first-year student who has only experienced college online, I’m aware of how much I don’t know about the true 5C experience yet. It’s been hard to adjust to virtual classes without being able to talk to professors in person — just as I’m sure it has been just as difficult for students older than me to make the change from in-person to remote classes, not to mention for professors to switch to teaching classes online. A mid-semester course evaluation would help. 

When doing the evaluations at the end of the fall semester, I wondered if it actually made sense to only ever complete a course evaluation that directly corresponds to the future success of the careers of my professors, and not the future successes of myself or other students taking the course. In an ideal situation, I want my feedback on the class to be taken as constructive criticism that would prompt an instructor to make improvements to the course, benefiting me and my classmates.

When the only chance to give feedback to one’s professor in an anonymous, academic setting is through a course evaluation that is due right before or after finals, it can feel like student concerns about the class will never be addressed. 

The frustrating part about this issue is that during the remote semesters we’ve had, it has been imperative to communicate worries to professors virtually, which doesn’t always feel as effective as bringing something up in person.

Mid-semester evaluations are not unheard of in other academic settings, and some professors at the 5Cs choose to do this individually. As shown by the litany of universities that provide resources for their staff regarding mid-semester evaluation programs and feedback collection from students, they are common across many campuses.

While it may seem counterproductive to solve a problem regarding course evaluations by adding another course evaluation to the semester, the students who are self-motivated and care about providing valuable feedback and suggestions to professors would not be opposed to filling out the assessment. 

In addition, the professors should assure that the evaluations would be entirely optional and anonymous, and that they would not have the same implications towards their career paths as the end-of-course assessments do. 

The mid-semester assessment would not need to be a 5C-wide form, and it could be unique to the class — written by the professor — with the data being used only by that professor.

For professors who find the feedback they receive from students at the end of the semester to be useful in their course planning and the way they manage the next semester of classes, the addition of a mid-semester course evaluation would add to the quality of their course and courses in the future, not to mention improve the communication between students and professors. 

Though this solution mainly stems from what I noticed during this virtual year of college, I don’t doubt that the concept of a mid-semester evaluation would be equally beneficial during an in-person semester of college as well.

London Lordos SC ’24 is from Arlington, Virginia, but is currently living on a sustainable farm in Pennsylvania.

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