In many classes, end-of-semester course evaluations represent the only formalized avenue for students to give instructors feedback. While some professors and teaching assistants opt to solicit student feedback in the middle of the course, this is far from standard practice. To better support students and promote educational practices that work for everyone, Penn should mandate that professors and TAs be evaluated in the middle of the term as well.
TAs and professors may seek out feedback in an informal way, other classes’ evaluations are more structured and mandatory. This structure ensures that all students, even those who might be hesitant to criticize professors or ask for help, have their voices heard. Midterm evaluations must be more like the end-of-semester evaluations that students must complete before seeing their final grades for the class. Midterm course evaluations could be even more valuable because they would allow instructors to tweak courses in time for current students to benefit.
To be considerate of student feedback during the semester, all instructors and TAs should be required to conduct anonymous midterm course evaluations for their classes. By identifying common difficulties or concerns among students with regard to teaching, assignments, or grading, professors can ensure that students are effectively learning the material and getting something out of the class.
Professors must be cognizant of the needs and voices of their students. The best professors are adaptable, and midterm evaluations will help facilitate this process.
Midterm evaluations wouldn’t just be useful for students. Penn also uses evaluations to help determine whether or not a professor gets tenure. Midterm evaluations will enable tenure-track professors to refine their teaching styles in order to get better marks at the end of the semester and make it more likely that they’ll eventually get tenure. For professors and TAs, midterm evaluations would not just be extra work — they’d be a way to collect feedback and improve the learning environment at Penn.
At a large university with busy professors often focused on research rather than teaching, students can feel like their opinions go unheard or that there is no productive way to share them. Midterm evaluations are a necessary check-in for instructors, and must be implemented by the University across all courses.
Editorials represent the majority view of members of The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. Editorial Board, which meets regularly to discuss issues relevant to Penn's campus. Participants in these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on related topics.