Online evaluations burden

Starting April 18, sections of course evaluations will be given online as part of a pilot test to determine how response rates will be affected by technology.Catherine Wehlburg, executive director of the Office of Assessment and Quality Evaluation, said the evaluations will be sent through e-mail with a link to the evaluation. She said text boxes below each multiple choice question will encourage more detailed responses.

While the results of the pilot test could be surprising, students may be less likely to take the initiative to fill out online evaluations in the future.

Online evaluations mean students have to diligently check e-mail, respond to evaluation instructions and take the time to leave constructive criticism. Many students will not accept the responsibility of completing evaluations during free time. It’s much easier to send the e-mail to the trash folder and spend that 15 minutes finishing a term paper. But, with this technology-driven generation, it’s a step in the right direction.

Wehlburg also said online evaluations may help to eliminate issues with handwriting legibility. And students who are absent from class on evaluation day will still have the opportunity to evaluate their courses, Wehlburg said.

Online course evaluations are the perfect alternative to the pencil and paper method. However, an alternative might not be for the best. While hand-written evaluations present some issues, online evaluations may be worse.

If TCU wants to evolve with technology, it should find an incentive to encourage students to do the same, such as offering the online evaluations in computer labs during class time or bombarding inboxes with repeated evaluation requests until it is complete. Still, incentives could create more issues than the old school evaluation method.

One can hope students will take responsibility to ensure their voices are heard. Online evaluations are a good idea, but they require an extra effort by students.

Opinion editor Lindsey Bever for the editorial board.