I am commenting on the article “Students evaluating teachers doesn’t just hurt teachers. It hurts students.” which appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
I will start by saying that I didn’t realize that this was such a hotly debated topic. Of course, my perspective is biased by the fact that I have only attended institutions in the United States, where student evaluations are standard. It makes intuitive sense to ask students what they are getting out of a course; if we want to know if students are meeting learning goals, why not just ask them if they are?
A major concern about evaluations is whether instructors prioritize good reviews over good teaching. It is easy to say that they shouldn’t, but when these evaluations are one of the ways in which their job performance evaluated, I can see how some people might succumb to that pressure. Another concern is what factors contribute to the evaluations students give. As is mentioned in the article, factors completely unrelated to teaching like “sexiness” can lead to better evaluations which is worrying.