U of M considers making private 'course evaluations' public

MINNEAPOLIS - There's a move at the University of Minnesota to get course evaluations that, for decades, have been private, and make them public for the very first time.

At the end of every semester, students fill out a sort of survey about the class they took to give the university a better idea of what students think.

"Any general comments about the professors, how much time it takes per week to study for that class," Allison Grudem, sophomore, gave a few examples of items that are part of the evaluations.

Grudem said it also asks if the students wish they could have done something differently and in comparison, how does the class rate to other similar class. For example is the class easier than others or was it more challenging.

Over the years, all of the information collected has remained private and the university has used it for its own purposes.

In the meantime, there's a growing movement of resources students are using online to get information about professors and classes at universities across the country.

Websites like www.ratemyprofessors.com have popped up online and allow students to type in a professor's name and, if the professor has been rated before, all of the student comments are available at your fingertips.

"You should only trust that kind of thing so much and rate my professor is about the right amount of formality," explained Simon Benarroch, sophomore.

Benarroch is of the mind that the websites should stick with the more informal critiques and the university should continue with its more formal questionnaire and it should remain private.

That said, there are those who question what's there to hide.

"If he has something to hide then we have something to be embarrassed about," explained Grudem. "Which I don't think that we do."

Whether or not to release the "course evaluations" and make them public is a proposal before the Faculty Senate. The Senate's next meeting is in May.


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