Just to Remind You, My Students…

I often find student evaluations rather frustrating. They are contradictory, short-sighted and sometimes insulting, especially when students did not put much effort in the class in the first place. I think their evaluations are also biased towards teachers who are physically more appealing. And students, with their lack of experience and expertise, are not in a good position to evaluate an expert. What more could be said against student evaluations?

For me , a good teacher is based on two things:
– explaining the material well.
– the course content are carefully selected

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The course content is probably the most important factor in making a student better at the subject. I’ve benefited very much from taking classes from professors who have a really bad English, are not good at communicating or keeping you interested during the lecture. But their notes were amazing: there was a clear logical progression, everything was very well defined, and most importantly, the course was challenging and the problem sets made you think. At the time, I would have rated them as bad teachers due to their poor communication abilities. In retrospect, I would much prefer a bad communicator to an excellent professor with unstructured notes.

Also, I know that sometimes being good at what you do is simply not enough. Students who hate the subject, but like the teacher typically work harder in the class. On the other hand, if a student hates the teacher (for teaching well and being tough like I did in class) their ability to learn is sometimes negated.

Students won’t necessarily like a tough teacher at the time, but if they learn what they need to know to succeed in college and beyond, they will respect and come to like them later on in life (Case in point…my ex student who is now studying in Australia for her Master Degree hated me years ago when I taught her in Diploma IV, now she realized how valuable my lessons were…and now considers me one of her best teachers).

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