Archive for May 7th, 2013

After every semester, when I’ve recovered from grading, I get to experience the joy of getting my student evaluations back. (See previous posts on evaluations here and here.) Other than students who complain about having to write papers or complete readings or take exams, one thing that has always bothered me about evaluations is the fact that one or two students will inevitably give me a less-than-perfect score on something like “arrives to class on time” or “returns graded assignments within a cycle of the moon.” This bothers me because I always arrive to class on time and return graded assignments within a cycle of the moon, so any student who thinks I do not is either lying or not paying attention.

This semester I had students in one of my courses complete a group project and, when the project was complete, evaluate their group members, which gave me some insight into these frustrating experiences. When looking over student a few students’ evaluations of their group members, I noticed that they assigned their group members a 4/5 on measures like “completed his or her share of the work” and “contributed ideas to the group.” The interesting thing was not the 4/5 (some students rated their group members much lower than this – after all, nobody wants to deal with students!) – but that some students assigned 4/5 in these categories to both their group members and themselves. Apparently, nobody in these groups completed their full share of the work or contributed ideas to the group. It seems like I would have realized this based on other situations, but I guess that it is true for evaluations as well – some students will never be satisfied, even with themselves.

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