For you non-academics unfamiliar with life at the university, yesterday was the day I got my evaluations. Yes, it’s true, the students get to turn everything around and grade the faculty on their performance. I can’t actually fail — tenure, you know — but these things do matter when it’s time to determine raises and that sort of thing (which will be roughly in mid-March). The department gets a tiny pot of money that the chair will dole out to the good little boys and girls, and she will use student evals as part of the determination, which also includes research and service.
So yesterday I cracked the virtual envelope to get the results, and they were fine. On a scale of 0 to 6, I got all 5s and 6s, which might translate into a raise of a few tens of dollars in a few months. It probably isn’t worth it, because I have to bust my ass for a year to get biology across to the students.
What’s more interesting is the comments students write, which I take far more seriously than numbers punched into a Likert scale, and are far more likely to get me to change things in the course. I got a few criticisms that made me happy.
Students said, “wasted too much time on creationism” and “I want to learn more biology, not creationism.” For context, I give ONE(1) lecture out of 30 that addresses religious objections to evolutionary theory. One. And this audience of smart millennials is just completely over it. That makes me so happy.
OK, have it your way. I’m cutting that lecture out of next year’s curriculum, and replacing it with more straight-up unvarnished biology, with no regrets. I hope this class is representative of their generation, because it’s about time we could ignore that nonsense.