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Course evaluations are a necessary (and perhaps annoying) opportunity in which I encourage every student to participate. Here’s why.

Professors and instructors are people, too.

I know. Hard to imagine. As people, professors can only fix what we know is not working or keep doing what we know is. We need your feedback for continuous quality improvement.

Your evaluations count.

When I was a dean, students often talked to me about courses that thought were not good. When I asked if they included their feedback on course evaluations, some of them replied “no.” They thought their evaluations would not make a difference.

Please know that course evaluation data are reviewed by the professor in charge of the course and academic leaders. Though there are some exceptions, when a large majority of students in a course participate in the evaluation and give low ratings, leaders notice and will make changes.

Take this opportunity to let it all go.

By the end of a course, you probably have some resentments or some excitement or something in between. This end of the course exercise is a great way to let it all out to an audience that can relate directly to your points. Sharing feedback is a great way to conclude a three-four month experience.

Practice makes polite and constructive perfect.

Whatever job or careers you have later in life, you will be evaluated or have to evaluate other people. Take this opportunity to practice giving constructive feedback. Note what you are asked and think about why. And, as you respond, please refer to point number one. Professors are people, too. While it is acceptable to be critical, it is not acceptable to be mean or harsh.

Your participation may be required….and very much appreciated.

Even if the penalty for skipping this task is small, please comply and provide thoughtful responses. The rule is there because someone recognizes the value of your feedback.

As a student, have you ever tried to improve a course before the end of the year? If so, what did you do? Did it work?