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Wouldn’t it be great if students could grade their teacher? Well, students are allowed one small chance to do such a thing. After three or more months of being graded by a teacher, students have the chance to evaluate the teacher through the Student Evaluation of Instruction. Student Evaluation of instruction will be further referred to as SEOI. SEOIs came into use after the events of the 1960s. The SEOI is a paper that gives students a chance to give a personalized opinion on the teacher and the course itself. They are implemented in colleges all across the world. Although, the system used for SEOIs is flawed.

There are three main ways to execute an SEOI. The first method is to have open ended questions. These questions are usually responded to by students with short answers or answers in paragraph form. Open ended items are the most inefficient of the possible SEOI alternatives. With the open ended question format, the questions need to be copied into a specific system within a computer by a secretary. This is very time consuming for the secretary and it takes longer to go through the multiple papers. The time it takes to record responses is the most prevalent flaw in the open ended system of SEOIs. Along with the amount of work it takes to record the open ended SEOIs, the answers can be open to interpretation. The work required to take and turn the short answers given by students into a qualitative value that can be used to assess the teacher and course is very difficult and open to many loopholes. Loopholes such as perception of statements, exaggerated words, and incorrect tone while reading the answer. To narrow the range of error, we move on to the next type of SEOI.

The next form of SEOI is the check list style. The check list style consists of a list of words with instructions that tell a student to circle the ones that apply to the teacher and/or course. The directions can also ask the student to circle the words that do not apply to the teacher or that the teacher should change for the next quarter. Along with the open ended style, the check list style is very difficult to turn into a quantitative value. It is very difficult to turn a word into a number value so that one teacher or class can be compared to another. The time it takes to type up the answers to the check list style is also a time consuming task. The easiest of the three SEOIs is the rating scale.

The rating scale is just as it sounds: a scale given to a student so that he or she can rate the course, teacher, and learning environment. The scale is usually a list of one to five, or sometimes one to seven. The rating scale is the easiest of the three SEOIs to grade in mass quantities. It sets up a number that can be used to assess the teacher with a grade and can easily be compared to another teacher. The main fault of this SEOI is the perception of the person writing it. The difference between a 3 graded by one student and a 4 graded by another student is that both students could have the exact same opinion of the teacher and the class, but they may possess different perceptions of what the numbers represent.

The best way to execute an SEOI is a combination of two of the previously mentioned methods. A good balance of the rating scale and open ended questions is widely believed to be the best SEOI system. It is the system used most today by colleges and universities across the U.S. The rating scale gives a number for the system to associate with the teacher and course. The open ended questions allow for extra comments at the end, and the rating scale questions gives a chance for more personalized comments about the teacher and advisors.

The basis of the SEOI is seemingly flawless if the right balance of measurable numbers and opinions is made. Now that the idea of the SEOI is outlined, some of the pitfalls are fairly deep. The SEOI is very susceptible to subjective thoughts and opinions. If a student does not like a teacher, low scores could cover the teacher’s SEOI. For every bad SEOI, four good ones are crushed. This is an unfair balance of power that the SEOIs hold. There is no way to fix this flaw because it is not in the system; it is in the people using the system. The flaw is noticeable when it comes to an objective perspective. When the students are objective, completely straight forward with their opinion, and do not just use the SEOI to smite a teacher, SEOIs are a great working system.
Another thing that has been recorded and is consistently repeating is that students are feeling that there are biases in the class. A lazy football player getting a better grade then a hard working student is one example. If the teacher is prone to be bias, the bias is noticed and brought up during an accurate SEOI.

The last flaw is done by the administration. The administration uses the numbers given from SEOIs to put one teacher in the can and the other on a pedestal. The numbers are manipulated into showing the need to fire a certain teacher, while another teacher with lower scores is kept because the administration likes them. This is another instance of the system working, but the people are using it incorrectly.

When it comes down to the cold hard truth, SEOIs are a well applied way of grading a teacher. Though there are flaws in this system as in every other system, SEOIs are miniscule. The only way to fix them is to either change systems or completely change human nature. This system appears to be the one with the most controllable flaws, but still gets the job done.




Student Evaluation of Instruction


Page Author: Logan R. Dearinger

Sunday, 18-Mar-2012 1:23


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-Wittrock, M. C., and David E. Wiley. The Evaluation of Instruction; Issues and Problems. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970. Print.



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