Are students really reliable enough to assess a teacher’s effectiveness?

by Regina Maiden, Staff Writer

The Student (Teacher) Survey is a privilege that calls for a certain level of student maturity.

Its accuracy lies in students’ ability to exercise self-control and good judgment, ideally without the influence of personal feelings.

But when factors such as timing, mood, and other influences interfere with their judgment, some students may rely on personal feelings to complete the survey.

“I am concerned that some students would focus more on personal feelings instead of the teacher’s actual skill,” social studies teacher Kimberly Blaine said.

Using objective judgment during the surveys may have proved challenging. Students were expected to rate teachers they experienced for less than six weeks.

Without more advantageous timing, it is unreasonable to expect accurate feedback for documentation. Uncertainty compels students to rely on personal feelings. Mood can sway results as well.

Sharon Jayson of USA TODAY reported that in the “Stress in America” survey conducted in 2013, American Psychological Association found that “as a result of stress, 40 percent of teens report feeling irritable or angry; 36 percent nervous or anxious.”

Judgment can be clouded by negative or positive emotions if the student is not prompted to use objectivity. A student with bad grades or a bad attitude is more likely to respond negatively to questions, just as a student who is in a good mood may approach the survey too lightly and carelessly mark that they agree with every question they are asked.

While there are undoubtedly more mature students on campus, valuable results are wasted and accuracy jeopardized when less mature students allow themselves to abandon self-control.

“I feel like a lot of the students aren’t very truthful,” senior Vanessa Angel said.

If students are only given the instruction to complete the survey, they proceed unaware of its importance and of the value of their honest feedback.

The survey serves to show teachers where they are doing well and where they may need to improve.

“If the data is used correctly, hopefully, teachers can see how students perceive their class and teachers can grow from that,” principal Regina Montgomery said.

Emphasis needs to be placed on the significance of the survey. Students need to be told that their honesty is crucial to the accuracy of the survey.

Literature teacher Laurette Brown suggested that the survey be administered more formally. If there are assigned computer times, if the participants are directed to check-in, if the survey is monitored by a proctor who is not their teacher, then students might take the survey more seriously.

Students should then be briefed on the purpose of the survey, what the survey entails, and how the survey affects their education so that they understand the seriousness of their involvement.

“I feel like the survey is a good thing because the students are the ones who are a part of the classroom,” senior Chakita Betts said.

Moving the time window to the later part of a semester would allow students more time to get a good grasp of their teacher’s teaching style. That way, students can be sure in their responses and teachers can rest assured that they are being evaluated more fairly—with the minimized influence of personal feelings.