Wall Street Journal: When Students Rate Teachers, Standards Drop

The subtitle is also very telling (and relevant to untenured professors like myself):

Why do colleges tie academic careers to winning the approval of teenagers? Something is seriously amiss.

The title of this post and the above subtitle are from a recent (October 27, 2013) Wall Street Journal article.  I agree that student feedback provides information to the professor.  I also agree that academic careers should not be tied “to winning the approval” of students.  Students in my class already know that I am not trying to win a popularity or approval contest.  Approval from students is not the goal.  Attainment of perfect understanding of the material is the goal.

Yesterday a couple students stopped by my office.  One comment was that I teach as if I expect students to know the material already.  That is untrue.  I don’t expect students to know the new material presented in the course.  I do have expectations.  I expect students in a junior/senior level finance class to have already mastered algebra and basic accounting.  Business calculus and accounting are prerequisites for the courses I teach.  So, if expecting a mastery of algebra and basic accounting is “high expectations” then I am guilty.  Actually, I don’t expect it, I require it. The course requires it.  So if you are behind in either of those areas it is on you to catch up using the available resources.

I will end with another quote from the article:

One of these studies, “Academically Adrift” (2011) by sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, suggests a couple of steps that could help remedy the problem: “high expectations for students and increased academic requirements in syllabi . . . coupled with rigorous grading standards that encourage students to spend more time studying.” [emphasis added]

In this regard I feel more a part of the solution than part of the problem.   🙂


2 thoughts on “Wall Street Journal: When Students Rate Teachers, Standards Drop

  1. I must agree with you.Students must understand that they prepare for life.To prepare just for an exam or for a letter grade is very superficial. Employers needs in depth candidates for global competition. To be fair is all that matter.

  2. I would like to point the finger, in my experience with the CBA at Sac State, the guidance counselors fail students before stepping foot in a classroom. I went in looking for guidance after my first semester was complete, ready to talk about what interested me and what I did not like so much. I left with a piece of paper that detailed which classes I had left before I could graduate, and advise to choose my concentration soon.

    The result is that you have HROB-suited students in upper division Finance. GM-suited students bored to death in Accounting.

    You are correct that it is unfair for student evaluations determine how effective you are as a professor when you expect a mastery of algebra when business calculus is required. As an “older” student, I often became annoyed with my peers’ lack of diligence and studious nature. That being said, I wish I had some friends…

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