Student Teacher Evaluations Now With Diversity & Inclusion Questions

Student evaluations have always been of little intrinsic worth. A student who did not learn his material is not the best judge about why he didn’t, though odds are he won’t be thrilled with the class or teacher. A student who did well is the opposite. Evaluations are predictable.

It’s not as if student feedback is of no worth, of course; it’s the systematic way of gathering opinions complete with pseudo-quantifications, and the basing of official actions for and against teachers, that stinks.

Evaluations arrived with the increasing power of HR, which is to say, administrators in universities, who introduced the harmful and false idea that students are “customers.” A much better metaphor would be recruits. Can you imagine asking men at the end of boot camp, “How well do you think the DI respected your personal lived experience?”

Maybe that joke does not resonate as well as it should, given our military is becoming increasingly woke.

Enter the WSJ piece (the paper hasn’t gone full SJW yet) “A Mole Hunt for Diversity ‘Bias’ at Villanova” by Colleen A Sheehan and James Matthew Wilson. The university is, in name anyway, Catholic.

Last fall we were notified by the Villanova administration that new “diversity and inclusion” questions would be added to the course and teaching evaluations that students fill out each semester. In addition to the standard questions about the intellectual worth of the course and the quality of instruction, students are now being asked heavily politicized questions such as whether the instructor has demonstrated “cultural awareness” or created an “environment free of bias based on individual differences or social identities.”

In short, students are being asked to rate professors according to their perceived agreement with progressive political opinion on bias and identity. Students are also invited to “comment on the instructor’s sensitivity to the diversity of the students in the class.” Professors are rated on their “sensitivity” to a student’s “biological sex, disability, gender identity, national origin, political viewpoint, race/ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, etc.” The “etc.” in particular seems like an ominous catchall, as if the sole principle of sound teaching has become “that no student shall be offended.”

A math teacher has just awarded an F to a young lady with blue hair. She took the Math Appreciation course because she was forced by the university, a requirement. Her major is Studies (it doesn’t matter which Studies). The professor, being fair, called on her in class once. She couldn’t answer.

How will she rate the professor on the professor’s ideological conformity?

Before you answer, remember that always, absolutely always, under Diversity & Equality standards are lowered. The steps are as inevitable as aging. First a need for Diversity & Equality is mandated. It is promised standards will never be lowered to meet these goals. Second, standards are lowered to meet the goals. Third, it is argued the standards were never necessary.

The student is in the Math Appreciation course because she can’t do math, but the university needed to save face and claim all students receive a “rounded” education, hence the simplest possible requirement. Consider the professor herself, perhaps a person of color, or even a person of no color at all, secured her position because she answered correctly on her own Diversity & Equality statement, which was required as a condition of employment.

So it’s difficult to guess how the student will rate the professor. Few students “feel” they “deserve” an F, or really anything much below an A-, especially those students most deserving of low grades.

Two things are clear. All classes will be dumbed down to some extent, as skittish professors know the deal about handing out bad grades. As Sheehan and Wilson note, no professor can afford the stain of being labeled a dissenter.

You can’t fire a professor for being conservative, but you certainly can fire him for creating a “hostile work environment.” At a minimum, all charges of insensitivity, injustice and bigotry will become part of the faculty’s permanent record. How long will it be before professors cease to challenge their students for fear of losing their careers and livelihoods?

Second it must be that the student ratings of ideological conformity will further solidify the ideology. Of course, if the ideology were based on Truth and Reality, this would be desirable. But Diversity & Equality is based on desire and fantasy, which leads all to readily to insanity.

Maybe that idea of Independent Rating Of University Degrees doesn’t sound so bad now.

10 Thoughts

  1. Anyone who sends their kids to public schools has no room to complain about the nightmare coming and their little communist tattletale brat because THEY ASKED FOR IT. That parents send their kids to these places is proof Americans do not love their children whatsoever.

    I am 100% certain AMERICANS WANT A COMMUNIST HELL TO LIVE IN and they are going to get it.

  2. Engagement with their academic studies is a critical factor in student learning. Teacher evaluations thus should be concerned mostly with how well instructors involve students in the process. Teachers and students should be active participants. Too often, on both sides, they are not. Whether or not students choose to participate, it’s necessary for teachers to do their best to engage even the reluctant as a matter of their professional duty. Survey questions should inquire about methods of engagement.

  3. While I am certainly not a fan of socialism, it seems hard for me to ignore that some places seem to get better results, and more cost effectively than the US. France, for example, seems to provide comparable health care (excluding dental, at least, and, not factoring in accessibility/timeliness) at a fraction of the cost in the US.

    Not that everything France, or similarly structured countries, do is exemplary … but to provide an effective & compelling counter argument one does better by addressing specifics with more focus.

    US health care isn’t so great by some measures — extremely regulated, to a fault, and a fix of a socialistic added layer such as the Affordable Care Act doesn’t help …. where deregulation could make a big positive difference.

    And so one can go with an informed discussion. The trick is finding an informed person to discuss such things with.

    The other day I was discussing such themes with a liberal French univ prof visiting the area. She insists US taxes are higher … even when confronted with OECD (HQ’d in Paris) data showing otherwise, especially in terms of economic efficiency (e.g., tax rates vs GDP). This was a short discussion; never argue with a pig…as the saying goes. In a way though, that’s fun with the liberal sort, watching them squirm & blush as they strive to to suppress facts that disprove their fabricated belief system.

  4. When I was a graduate student I was forced to teach a math course, partial differential equations. I made no attempt to engage the students because I figured they wouldn’t be in a summer school class if they weren’t really interested in the subject. Also, partial differential equations isn’t exactly a math appreciation course so there was no coed with blue hair in attendance that I had to pander to, just a few guys who wanted to learn the math.

  5. @Ken

    Apparently the USA has structured its health care system in such a way that the people providing health care essentially have a license to print money. The incencitives are to make treatments as expensive as possible. Apparently the entire administrative system is still marks of ink on dead trees.

  6. Sander Van Der Wal,

    The problem is with the insurance companies and is compounded by low deductibles. Instead of being insured against catastrophe, the average person is insured against getting merely sick. Since it’s Other People’s Money, most (who get the insurance as an employment benefit) don’t care what the charges are. Insurance companies normally payout only 1/3 the listed price so the price has been inflated by 300%.

    Prior to ACA, it was possible to negotiate payments down to 1/3 list even when not insured. Since ACA, it’s difficult since insurance is required. Also, the insurance companies now have no incentive to reduce premiums. When ACA was introduced, my annual costs went from $1200/yr to nearly $6000 — a factor of 5 — because now I’m forced to buy insurance at inflated premiums and can no longer negotiate costs.

    Socialized medicine isn’t the answer. That just moves everything to a single insurer. Changes nothing. The pre-ACA situation was really better. What should have been done was to tax insurance job benefits as income to remove the incentive to opt for low deductibles and force them to pay attention to health care costs.

  7. @Sheri,
    Well, some Americans don’t want a Communist hellhole; but we are slowly dying off. I still teach my children Reality, whenever I need to; as well as to the grandchildren. Americans like Candace Owens are out there, just not as visible.

  8. Plus, nearly no-one pays the ‘top line’ charge in the USA. I have been in the hospital twice in the last few months. First bill was for $150,000. Of that, insurance paid $15,000. My left-over bill? $900. Second bill was for $15,000. Of that, insurance paid $1,500. My part? $100. All of those “negotiated” discounts have to be paid for. Someone has to pay the $1 billion and a decade of time bringing new drugs to market. Maybe we can lower the top line cost by making the rest of the world pay *their* fair share? ;p
    Oh, be aware that changes predate the ACA. The ACA made things worse. HIPAA started it 22 years ago.

  9. Point of contention: It is permissible in the USA to fire someone based solely on their political affiliation. “Republican” is not a legally protected class.

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