This year, student evaluations of classes and teachers will be conducted on the All-School Haiku page instead of being distributed during class periods in order to give students more anonymity, make it easier to compile data, and eliminate the chaos that used to surround the surveys. At the end of the first semester, the English, Performing Arts and Foreign Language Departments will try out the new survey system so the School can judge the merit of this reconfigured evaluation process.
These evaluations allow students to compliment and critique their teachers. If a teacher is in a Summative Year, meaning he or she is undergoing a process of intense evaluation, the student evaluations go into the teacher’s permanent file. The format of the evaluations has also been slightly altered, and the Physical Education, Performing Arts and Visual Arts Departments will now be allowed to develop their own unique surveys.
The online system has already been tested by a few teachers in the Marlborough community.
“I’ve been doing my evaluations online for a few years…in the Math Department at least, teachers can recognize a student’s handwriting. The online evaluations allow the girls to be more honest,” math instructor Alison Moser said.
Students agreed that the anonimity had been dubious.
However, the new evaluations will not be entirely anonymous. Although teachers will not be able to see student names, the administration will have a record of who contributed which comment, so students will not be able to make incendiary remarks without consequences.
Under the new system, the Department Heads will distribute evaluations for the classes under their jurisdiction via email, and will provide students with a time frame in which they must complete the evaluation. Some girls say they look forward to being able to put a bit more time and effort into their responses.
“I always feel like I’m rushed to do [the evaluation] in class. [This year] I feel like my responses will be more detailed,” Olivia ’14 said.
In addition to putting students more at ease, several girls mention that this system will benefit the environment. Each student has about seven classes, and there are about 530 students. That means almost 4,000 pieces of paper had previously been used for these evaluations each semester.
However, the online system may prove to have flaws.
“I feel like fewer people will do [the surveys] if they’re online,” Elise ’14 said. This concern is not unsubstantiated. Recently, Hotchkiss issued a survey regarding the new schedule and received only a 60% response rate.
Parker ’14 said she believes that there may be some drawbacks when it comes to how self-directed the new evaluations are. “I think that because we have more time to do them, we can converse with our friends about our answers,” Parker said, explaining that girls could collude to all complain about the same teacher or merely affect each other’s responses in ways that were not possible when students filled out evaluations together in a silent classroom.