Are assessments of Instructors truly needed?
Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 2, 2012 17:11
This might surprise you about an article in the opinion section, but I really don't have a strong opinion on this topic.
Sorry to disappoint you if you are looking for a scathing editorial on how assessments of instructors at MATC should be mandatory or that the assessments are a waste of time and resources. I don't believe strict assessment procedures are necessary. Kind of. Here's why.
I have been fortunate enough to have had the vast majority of my collegiate teachers be good, if not great. Of course I've had a few stinkers here and there, but the good far outweigh the bad. Even dating back to grade school, I've been blessed with tolerable teachers.
The last truly awful teacher I had was my 1st and 2nd grade teacher. She used to break out the soap for kids that misbehaved, especially for those that said bad words. And I won't even mention the yard stick.
MATC might not have a strict assessment process for teachers, but I'm not sure they need one. There are so many hurdles to jump through even if the school wanted to get rid of a teacher; teacher unions and tenure come to mind. Attempting to fire a teacher with tenure is an entire ordeal by itself; you might as well not even try.
I do have some knowledge of the MATC process of addressing teacher issues. I'm familiar with a few individuals who took a class a few semesters ago at MATC and hated the teacher.
So much so, they were granted a petition from the assistant dean's office, and in turn sent it to the administration, complete with student signatures, in order to get the instructor removed.
Unfortunately due to a clerical error, the administration office lost the paperwork and the instructor was not removed until some semesters later, again after receiving complaints. Would a properly setup assessment procedure have prevented this scenario from happening? I don't think so.
I believe there are already checks and balances in place to eradicate the need for formal assessment of instructors.
One example is the post-course evaluation many instructors allow the students to fill out, usually on the last day of class or near the end of the semester. These surveys are purely from the teacher for the teacher, for their own personal interest regarding the class. Teachers frequently use these to change aspects of their class that didn't go quite right or according to plan.
I always fill these surveys out, hoping the teacher will improve the course and give future takers of the class a smoother ride than I had.
If the teacher doesn't care to improve their class for their students, they should not be teaching in the first place; they are selfish and not putting their students first.
Saying that, students are always going to try to gain the upper hand in regards to picking the best/easiest teachers. With the rise of the internet, many websites have sprung up to help students find the best instructors available for the students classes. The class selection process has changed from picking some random teacher for your required class to shifting entire blocks of classes around in order to secure the best reviewed teacher.
Sites such as RateMyProfessors.com myedu.com and campusbuddy.com all analyze data regarding instructor and course grades, automatically calculating the teacher's average GPA, allowing students to easily find and sign up for classes with the easiest-grading teacher.
To counter all I've said, schools can't obviously just let teachers go without some direction either; schools can't let the inmates run the asylum.
However, I think the laissez-faire approach to assessments of instructors is perfectly appropriate. Teachers by definition are prone to grow in their craft, to constantly continue improving, and most do just that.
For the bad apples of the bunch, I say let the students weed them out.