Students, faculty say SOS forms aren’t useful, representative of classes
Student Opinion Surveys have become routine for all Central Michigan University students, but not everyone on campus agrees that these scores are truly reflective of student opinion or of teacher effectiveness.
SOS forms are distributed to classes at the end of each semester and are intended to be used to measure the effectiveness of the teaching style of the professor. Although students use SOS forms as an opportunity to praise or criticize professors and warn future students of what they’re about to face, the information in those surveys doesn’t always benefit the student when registering for classes.
Sociology Professor Mary Senter said providing SOS information at class registration is a disservice to students, for several reasons.
“To determine whether any faculty member is an effective teacher, we need to measure that in different ways,” Senter said. “The Student Opinion Survey is one way, but it doesn’t make sense for a student to rely on one way to look at teaching effectiveness. And the university, by making that one way available to students just by clicking, is sending students an incomplete picture and a university shouldn’t do that.”
Senter also said the surveys are based on information that should not decide whether other students should take the course.
“The second problem with making Student Opinion Surveys available at registration is the scores that the faculty receive are affected and influenced by many factors that have nothing to do with whether a student learns,” Senter said. “For instance, faculty receive lower scores when classes are large rather than small. Faculty receive lower scores when a class is required rather than being an elective for a student. And faculty receive lower scores when grades students receive in a class are lower. Students shouldn’t choose which courses to take based on factors not related to whether they learn.”
Student Government Association Senator Andrea Thompson said current SOS forms are flawed, and is working to push for changes to be made to make them more representative of how students really feel about their classes.
“Last year, in the final meetings of the Academic Affairs Committee, we had discussed the need to make alterations to the current SOS forms,” said the Wyoming sophomore. “[T]he majority felt that the questions on the forms were superficial and that students weren’t able to rate their professors on qualities that mattered. They also said that they much preferred to rate the class as a whole instead of just their professors, as many felt that the university deserved to know a lot more about the course than whether the professor was passionate about their subject.”
St. Johns sophomore Katie Magsig said though she will almost always check a professor’s information before taking a class, this information should be taken with a grain of salt.
“I feel like you either write a response if you really like a professor or if you really don’t, there’s not much middle ground,” Magsig said. “…Bear in mind that everyone learns differently. Even if everyone else really liked a professor, you might not.”
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