Evaluating Students

I’m currently involved in a project examining peer review of teaching and the number of ways our teaching and courses can be evaluated is quite comprehensive. Our presentation style, the materials we provide, the choice of assessments, the design of marking rubrics and syllabi and on and on. In a (natural) defensive reaction, I thought, even students aren’t evaluated this much!

Yes, I evaluate my students by assessing the amount of content they have successfully retained for the exam. I evaluate their ability to gather, integrate and present information in essays and assignments. But aside from these academic measures, I don’t really evaluate anything else. I don’t measure their interpersonal skills, their campus engagement, even their contributions to class discussions.

I don’t evaluate the effort they put in. ¬†I don’t even keep track of patterns of behaviours like late assignments or requests for special consideration (although I have thought of this last one….often).

When students walk out into the wide world with their degree, does anyone consider how they got there? First, someone who got straight A’s has the same degree as someone who got C’s. (some employers may ask for transcripts, but many don’t). Someone who never handed in a late assignment has the same degree as someone who requested extensions chronically across many courses.

I wonder what information we could glean about students, and how we could use this to guide what we do and how we do it.