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Debate: Is it beneficial to let students rate their teachers?

Round 1

Pro: Every student should use the opportunity to grade teachers provided it is conducted in an anonymous manner. Students pay a huge tuition to study while sacrificing the comfort of home and closeness of loved ones, sometimes traveling halfway across the planet. Grading teachers give students the opportunity to see changes in the overall teaching style they expect in their teacher. Also, it serves as a good source of reflection for teachers to comprehend how their behavior, grading style and knowledge of the subject is perceived. If the grading process is thoughtfully designed and conducted at a proper time during the term, the teacher will be aware of difficulties faced by the class or specific students and can work on them. Grading teachers always keep the administration aware of the performance of the teachers they recruit, which benefits the entire institution.

Con: While gaining feedback through surveys can have benefits, there are problems that need to be taken into account. One such problem is that of bias. If a teacher has the class take a survey, there is a large possibility of only select students taking it. This could be the very diligent students, who might see this as homework, the students who absolutely love the class or the students who absolutely hate it. The answers of the last two groups are the ones that can skew the results the most, depending on which group is more prevalent. Though this may say something about the teacher’s instruction, it is not always the reason. For example, the student may have strong feelings about the subject itself, thus leading to a score on the extreme end of the spectrum, or they may have had life circumstances that influenced how they view the course and the instructor. Again, this is not necessarily anything about the teacher’s instruction but influences the survey results.

Round 2

Pro: There’s every possibility of these situations taking place but they can be taken care of easily. First, the course syllabus along with the workload should be clearly stated. This will ensure that students go through it and decide whether to register for that class. Second, feedback need not be positive or negative. If the feedback is involuntarily made subjective then it will bring ease and clarity to the whole process. Third, while recruiting, the administration should investigate the records of the teacher from their previous institution to get a better idea about the similar courses taught before. This will aid the administration, while gauging the students’ feedback, in comprehending how students grade performance based on course difficulty. The administration has the authority to promote or fire a professor and surveys are efficient means to decide whether to do that. Teachers work in an institution to teach and/or do research. Regarding the student part, what’s the use if students don’t feel content with their progress? Instructors are not just for those who love that class. They have a responsibility towards everyone and should develop a sense of agreeableness with the class and discuss unchangeable circumstances/syllabi just because it’s huge or difficult, for their better future.

Con: Again, while feedback is useful for making certain that things are proceeding smoothly, it can cause problems. If students’ surveys of their instructors are used by the administration for promotion or firing purposes, it will skew how the teachers instruct their students. This may seem like a good thing, but bias can affect the results, thus leading to consequences that may not be fair to the teacher. Why should a teacher be passed over for promotion simply because the subject they teach is a difficult one that many students have strong negative feelings toward? These consequences can lead some teachers to make the class easier than perhaps it should be in order to gain more positive feedback. For example, consider a teacher that has a lot of material to cover in a semester, meaning a quick pace through the subject. Say they, in order to appease students who might give negative feedback, keep pushing back deadlines on material more than they can afford to if they want to keep on track. This means the class doesn’t get through all the material they may need to know for future careers. The potential for negative survey results has now affected the entire class’s future.

Con side debated by Rebacca Barkdoll

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