Friday, April 16, 2010

Some Great Course Evaluation News

If you are a student, you just received an email announcing that from here foreword - and subject to conditions - the 'narrative' portion of professors evaluations will be available students. About freaking time. Huge props to the students who pulled this off (I know it was not easy), although I do have one question about the email.

First, read this:
This year, our faculty advocates on the Curriculum Committee have approved a great change in course evaluations! Previously, students could only see aggregated numerical ratings (e.g., "Rate Professor X on a scale form 1 to 5") and not responses to narrative questions (e.g., "What could Professor X do better?"). However, this year, the responses to narrative questions will be made available online to the student body with password protected access. There's just one catch. In order for your answers to a particular narrative question to be made available to your fellow students, at least 50% of the students enrolled in this course must also respond to that particular question.

BHSA is asking that all students complete every question on the evaluations and remain polite and civil in our answers so that we are able to post them on the website. This new feature will give us all access through Berkeley Law's website to primary source information about student experiences with professors. We hope that you are excited about this and do your best to make it successful.
Doesn't the first sentence of the second paragraph sort of suggest that, while narratives will be posted, not *all* narratives will be posted? Who gets to decide what constitutes "civil"? Who gets to set the boundaries for what is considered "polite"? I hope it's not the professor.

Again, though, this is great work by some very dedicated 3L's. I'm not going to benefit from this, but it makes me very happy all the same.

Students: fill out your course evals here.

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Blogger Alex R. said...

T. LoPr*sti, a 1L, was one person on the BHSA faculty committee who made this happen. Thank you!!

4/16/2010 5:42 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I'm not sure what the ins and outs of the policy are, but I'd imagine that they're simply culling out cursing and vitriolic personal attacks. Nevertheless, I think it's a fair question to ask, and I'll see if I can dig anything up.

4/16/2010 5:46 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I asked one of BHSA's wonderful committee reps (who helped make this whole thing possible) about the "editing" process, and got some helpful information. Here is what she had to say about it:

When you go online the fine print on the teacher evaluation form says:

"All responses will be unedited and made available to students except: 1) remarks not directly responsive to the purposes of this question may be removed by the Associate Dean after evaluating a faculty member's complaint; and 2) responses concerning courses taught by a professor in her/his first year of teaching will not be available; and 3) responses concerning the first course taught at Boalt by a lecturer will not be available." (emphasis added)

Since the question asks about 1) the educational value of the course; and 2) the professor's teaching, it is my understanding that only remarks unrelated to the educational value of the course or the professor's teaching may be deleted. It was discussed in front of the faculty that discriminatory language and profanity would be considered unrelated to either of those two criteria.

So, for example, a comment like "Professor X has ugly glasses" would likely be deleted because it is not directly responsive to evaluating the educational value of the course or a professor's teaching.

The professor doesn't get to decide, but can complain to the Associate Dean who will then decide whether the comment is responsive or not.

4/16/2010 9:08 PM  
Blogger caley said...

I wonder if my statement (paraphrased from two-year old memory) "This professor should never teach this course again and likely only taught this course to pad his resume" would count as responsive?

On a related note, has H*rtog ever taught Estates & Trusts since Spring semester 2008?

Anyway, great work to everyone who made this happen. This change has been a long time coming and I'm glad to hear the faculty finally responded.

4/17/2010 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Alexis said...

S*rah P*uly (3L) and T*ny LoPr*sti (1L) were the members on the BHSA's Curriculum Committee who designed the proposal, fine-tuned it, and got the faculty's approval. Give them props if you run into them. Professor Sw*ft was also a great help.

4/18/2010 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone else got a call from Barbri saying the NY class has been moved from Berkeley to Oakland?

4/19/2010 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep. Sucks to be in Oakland...booo

4/19/2010 10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

any thoughts on O'C*onnell v. B*mberger for admin law?

4/20/2010 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A suggestion for the course reviews that would be easy and MUCH more meaningful:

It seems that for many categories, everyone gives a professor between 4 of 5 and 5 of 5. It would be nice to see, instead of "This Professor got a 4.1 average," "This Professor was in the 22nd percentile."

Just saying.

4/20/2010 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:22: O'C*nnell all the way! (I have had both. You'll thank me later).

Also, can we get some coverage of the toilet paper prank? Pranksters replaced all (most?) of the toilet paper in the school with toilet paper covered with the Convention Against Torture. Heh. Clever, right?

4/20/2010 10:03 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

If by "clever" you mean painfully unoriginal, and thoughtlessly delivered in a way that will add to the burden of our already strained janitorial staff, then yeah, I guess, it's clever. "Shortsighted and stupid" is the phrase I'd use.

Seriously, people, what the fuck? Aren't you supposed to be in "solidarity"? Did it even occur to you who was going to spend the day removing your handiwork from the restrooms?

(You're right about Professor AJO, though.)

4/20/2010 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

someone wanna make a post about the Yoo toilet paper? I just saw something online about it, and would like to know if it actually happened, and if it is still there

4/20/2010 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:03 a.m. here: As far as I can tell, the toilet paper was real toilet paper. How does that create more work for the janitorial staff? It wasn't destructive vandalism. It all seems to have been removed very quickly, in any case. I'm not really convinced this is going to have the janitorial staff toiling away into the wee hours.

Anyway, I don't know these kids and not particularly involved in the Yoo stuff either way, I just thought it was kind of funny and not particularly destructive, and frankly a lot more welcome than some of the humorless haranguing that Yoo protestors often employ (and that I know we'll all get to look forward to at graduation).

4/20/2010 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anon 2L said...

I have three comments about the Yoo toilet paper thing.

First, the protesters removed the regular toilet paper. Isn't that stealing? I mean, yea, it's toilet paper, it's not expensive and is easily replaceable, but still, they stole from the university (which, as they like to remind us, is publicly funded... so doesn't that mean they stole from the students?) How is that justified?

Second, is toilet paper with ink on it sanitary? They didn't leave the regular toilet paper, which means there was no (reasonable) alternative. I had to use their toilet paper. That, to me, seems at best really inconsiderate, and at worst potentially a health risk.

Third, what's the point? Whoever did this spent a lot of time and presumably some money to design and print the toilet paper, and to distributed it throughout the law school. And they did this under the guise of "raising awareness." As if there is not already a saturation of awareness here. I think they have accomplished nothing except to annoy fellow students and, probably, the administration and cleaning services as well. And the worst part is, this is exactly what they want. They can't possibly expect to convince anyone by doing this.

Great going a**holes!

4/20/2010 12:02 PM  
Blogger James said...

Maybe the protesters aren't trying to convince you. Maybe they just want to force everyone to regularly confront the fact that John Yoo got off scot-free for advocating for the use of torture on detainees.

They'd rather not let us forget about it, regardless of whether or not anything ever happens to Yoo.

On the other hand, it might have been therapeutic for Yoo to literally wipe his ass with the Convention Against Torture. The protesters may have enabled him to act out his fantasy.

4/20/2010 12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice work 12:02! You managed to find the three most inane arguments anyone could make about this episode and put them together in a convenient place for everyone to see. We owe you a debt of gratitude.

4/20/2010 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

two small but important points: Yoo did not advocate for the use of torture, and he didn't advocate for the use of torture .

iow, advocating for any particular practices wasn't his assigned task, his goal, or the express point of his memo. others within the executive branch did advocate for and against various practices.

and unless you think the entire exercise was intended to be a charade and sham, the point of the memo was to identify what practices were not properly considered torture.

4/20/2010 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well they made Gawker, anyway:

Clearly someone out there thinks it's amusing enough to write up.

4/20/2010 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to T.Lo and all else for making this happen.

On a related note, I wish the 1Ls could do mid-semester evaluations of ASP tutors. Mine were terrible, and they got paid for it. What a waste of my tuition.

4/21/2010 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Intro to IP is full. If I'm going to make any progress at Boalt, I need to take Patents with M*rges or Copyright with S*muelson. I have no IP background at all. It will be a busy semester with OCI and other classes. Advice?

4/23/2010 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, get on the waitlist. You will get in.

4/23/2010 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:17 here. I'm on the wait list, right behind two dozen other people.

4/23/2010 5:05 PM  

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