So, while talking about course feedbacks and the like, in the last class for this semester, I was reminded of what criticism felt like, for the short time, while I was working at a software development firm.
No. It was not anonymous.
Yes. It was blunt.
Yes. It was blatant.
No. It was not constructive. Or most of it wasn’t anyway.
But, yes. We got what s/he(client) wanted to express. Eventually anyway.
In academe, the entire concept of providing ‘anonymous’ classroom feedback materialized as a result of commoditizing the educational system. It probably started with, ‘hey I am paying for it! I should get to be able to critique it!’. Which of course is perfectly logical. I mean, monetary concerns aside, opinion-ating and commenting is the essence of being human. We definitely would not have a million bloggers worldwide, if this wasn’t the case. But what aggravates me is the anonymity of it all and making it compulsorily anonymous? We could be only trying to provide more agency to the students? Or are we?
Yes, an anonymous grievance expression mechanism is justified, in case one does not want to aggravate a faculty member directly and/or is scared of confrontation and/or wants to be able to express feelings which s/he cannot defend or is scared to.
However, in my opinion, course evaluations being anonymous is hardly justified!
In an ideal, much more transparent system the teacher-student could facilitate discussions amongst themselves to help better the course. How about a face to face interaction with the faculty on the last office hours? A small handwritten note, thanking the faculty for their time and effort along with constructive criticism could also work.
Shouldn’t comments and concerns about courses be expressed cordially and in a collegiate manner? It is a university after all. What happens after you graduate and walk into a world wherein you have no hiding behind lines of code? We speak of education systems trying to cater to developing individuals who are able to deal with real world scenarios more effectively. With such an aspiration how can we ask of our future citizens to shy away from voicing out concerns responsibly and being able to stand up for their beliefs and defend them?
I have always thought that non anonymity with regards to criticism goes a longer way in helping a person rectify a mistake. I for once, would rather that an individual point out my flaws, rather than a ‘non trace-able surveying’ software.
After-all, isn’t a faculty member primarily supposed to be able to engage, encourage and facilitate growth…