Monday, June 07, 2004

coarse evaluations, #2

("Yeah, but that first one, she was really my stepgrandmother.")

A reader who teaches part-time at Kaczynski College in Montana has their own take on my idea for online course evaluations:
You are far more sanguine than I about the possibility for a useful and constructive system for course evaluations. My solution is to set up an analog to On this site,, faculty could leave comments about each student and indicate the grade he or she would have received if the "C is average" dictum was (still?) the norm. Granted, allowing faculty to dole out chili peppers (to indicate hotness) would probably get me into trouble faster than you can say "[proper noun deleted*]". However, faculty could give "?" icons to the students whose writing is particularly incomprehensible, sad-drama-face icons to students who whine about their grades, and coffin icons to the students who use the "dead grandmother" excuse. (If professorial participation were high enough, the coffin icons would serve as a cumulative record of the number of grandmothers who have passed away over the course of the student's college career, thereby allowing his or her current professors to assess whether the dead grandmother excuse is even demographically possible.)**
* Deleted at the behest of the JFW legal staff. Too bad, as it made me nearly fall out of my chair laughing when I first read that sentence.

** JF notes that an unfortunate collateral consequence of the decline of the normative-no-divorce-nuclear-family is an increase in the plausible number of grandmother deaths that could coincide with a key exam and paper due dates over the course of an undergraduate career.

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