At the end of every semester, students have to fill out evaluations of their professors. For the most part, that is the last they hear or think about them. Now, students who want to see the results of those evaluations can find them online in the form of giant portable document files (PDFs) that can be reached through the Student Government home page, www.sg.usf.edu .
The evaluations are broken up by colleges and campuses, and those from the fall 2004 and spring 2004 semesters are available online.
“This provides students and faculty members with more accessible and accurate professor evaluations,” said SG Senator Frank Harrison, the chair of the Student Concerns Committee, which spearheaded the initiative.
A hard copy of the evaluations is available at the reference desk of the library.
“I’m not sure how many people are even aware of (the evaluations being at the library),” Harrison said. “Even if they are aware, it’s pretty inconvenient.”
According to the reference desk at the library, they usually have a small number of students looking up the hard copies of teacher evaluations around registration time.
A lot of students already rely on the Internet for researching professors before signing up for classes. They use third-party Web sites like RateMyProfessors.com or ProfessorPerformance.com. Sites like these usually have small numbers of evaluations. The USF professor with the most evaluations on both Web sites, by a large margin, happens to be criminology professor Dave Agresti.
He has 83 evaluations on RateMyProfessors.com. In contrast, the professor evaluations for Agresti that are reached through the SG home page has the aggregate results of 254 student evaluations from just fall 2004.
The vast majority of professors, if on those sites at all, have less than five evaluations.
“You’ll have three or four people rate a teacher, which is statistically invalid,” Harrison said. “Also, times you’ll find (with the third-party sites) you’ll only get extremes where you’ll have a student on there ranting how they love this professor or going on about how they hate him.”
The third-party sites generally offer less specific rating categories than the USF evaluations, but they do offer students a chance to comment on professors and explain their evaluations in words.
Harrison also said they are already working on getting the professor evaluations linked to the class schedule search Web site on OASIS, but progress is not moving quickly.