Great Moments in Student Course Evaluations

One of my least favorite end-of-term rituals for faculty is the dreaded student course evaluations. These have two components: the numerical bubble-sheet evaluations, which provide the pseudo-quantitatvie evaluation used to compare courses, and written responses to a half-dozen very general questions. The latter are at least potentially more useful, particularly when the standard questions are supplemented with some class-specific questions, and end up providing some of the most useful feedback on my teaching (though this sometimes includes things I can't do much about, such as the student this term who described me as "loud and intense").

Of course, these also include some truly mystifying comments, such as this one from my Quantum Optics class (after the cut):

He should wear more pink.

I have absolutely no idea what to make of that. I really hope my tenure committee doesn't decide to ask me what that means...

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I would have to say that loud and intense both sound like useful traits for science professors.

But I can't imagine why you should wear more pink, either.

"Loud and intense" in this case was in a sort of "too intimidating to ask for help" context, which isn't great. I can't really do anything about it, though. I've always been the biggest and the loudest-- I don't even exercise.

I don't know what it means either, but this seems like exactly the kind of mysterious data point science is very good at investigating. Perhaps the idea is that the soothing effects of Baker-Miller Pink would counter that "loud and intense" persona.

I think the obvious course of action is to wear more pink next semester and see if there is any impact on student performance. ;-)

Easy answer? Wear more pink! Just remember to change before you go scrimmage rugby or basketball, although, come to think of it, the pink might lead to an oppoent underestimating your game...

You should wear pink
to make students think
you're not intimidating
you're just...
you're really...

...okay, I got nothing. But I'm sure a big guy like you knows a rhyme?

One of the comments I got in my TA eval this semester was:
"Mike is very - real."

I'm still trying to figure out if that was a compliment or not.

Since I get to sit on the other side of these things and fill them out, I'd like to point out that evals can be a pain in the a** for students. How do I answer when I thought the class was a waste of time because the prof spent more time on his/her personal political agenda than the course content? Okay, I said that on the eval, but I'm older than the typical student and more willing to speak my mind. The perception at the school I'm attending is that these evals are a waste of time and don't change anything. In addition, most students would rather say something like "wear more pink" than what's on their mind because they're afraid of repercussions no matter what their told. If you don't know the students' perception of the evals, there is no way of understanding the odd comments.

Clearly, since pink is the new black, the student was under the impression that your lack of interest in fashion-forward attire implied a similar lack of interest in recent developments in quantum optics. Or perhaps pink would just bring out the colour of your eyes...

I used to get the equivalent of the "Loud and Intense" comment. I managed to get the IT guys to do a check on several other variables and found a big correlation of that answer with RA's. In fact, all the times I got were from RA's and never from TAs. My assessment is that until you teach you don;t get "Loud and Intense".
Perhaps the pink comment is meant to indicate that you are not a gentleman (ala Fitzgerald's Gatsby)? Or that you espouse political ideas in class? Somehow neither seems relevant.

By Simple Country… (not verified) on 13 Jun 2006 #permalink

Ray: You should wear pink
to make students think
you're not intimidating
you're just...
you're really...

"A liberal arts twink" (in Mike Kozlowski's memorable phrase)?

Since I get to sit on the other side of these things and fill them out, I'd like to point out that evals can be a pain in the a** for students.

Oh, definitely.
I never liked the damn things when I was a student, and didn't feel like they made much difference.

Of course, I feel a little guilty about that now, because my default rating was 3/5, and I hardly ever gave 5's. I had no idea that I was probably bringing a few junior faculty close to the brink of madness-- ratings below 4/5 are a crisis these days.

You'd probably look really nice in a pink shirt. Maybe your student was trying to flirt with you. We ARE talking geeks here, right?

MKK