I, too, have gotten big important corporate America performance evals (or annual reviews, or objective appraisals or whatever stupid phrase your company uses for "Mock you and criticize you and tear out your soul.") And it ain't the same.
Corporate America performance appraisals have a few major differences. One, you typically (although not always) have the chance to ask questions. So when your boss reads to you, "Now, Mr. Smith over in Accounting says, 'Teacher Lady is effective but tends to drool while speaking,'" you can say to your boss, "Um, what? I don't quite understand. Can Mr. Smith cite a specific time when I was drooling?" and your boss can get Mr. Smith on the speaker phone and he can say, "What? Drooling!?? No! I didn't say that - I said dueling!" And you can heave a sigh of relief and only later wonder in the middle of the night when you can't sleep, "Dueling? Is that better than drooling? Gob, I hope so. What did he even mean by that? Is this because I thought his wife was his daughter?" And two, (typically) you know who said what about you. If Mary, in Inside Sales, who is also the world's most heinous shrew and happens to hate your guts wrote, "Teacher Lady needs to learn to delegate better," you can just think to yourself, "Mary in Inside Sales is the world's most heinous shrew, and she happens to hate my guts, so that makes sense. I'm not going to get all bent out of shape about her opinion." And perhaps, you gossip about Mary more than usual for the next week or so and then you forget all about it until you are passed over for a promotion because Mary said you can't delegate well.
Course (code for "instructor") evaluations lack both of these components. When you get your spring semester course evaluations (as I did last week), you don't have the ability to ask the person what something means. For example: "My quizzes were too academic? What . . . does that mean, exactly? Because I kind of thought we were, you know, in an academy of higher learning. You were expecting, what maybe? A pornographic cartoon and instructions to circle the 'pee-pee'?" Or, another one that mystified me: "This course was too much work." Ah, yes. The insult that has bedeviled college instructors for centuries . . . too much work. I wonder if Calculus and Chemistry instructors have to deal with that same criticism. Because the assumption is that a human sexuality class is going to be all porn and Jell-O shots?
And of course - since the evaluations are anonymous, you cannot defend or explain yourself. One student wrote, "Quizzes should not be at the beginning of class. It would be much more fair if quizzes were at the end of the class." Well, I suppose that's true. Because if I said to you, "Kids, one and one is two. Now, take out a piece of paper and a pencil. Here's a short quiz: How much is one and one?" I'm guessing that might be the world's
One student wrote (here's where the concept of anonymity is shattered, because I've got a pretty good idea of who wrote this one), "Teacher Lady teaches this class like we're all a bunch of drunken, horny sleazes. She must acknowledge the sacred aspects of sex." This is where I'd love to ask for clarification from our friend Inappropriate Sister ('cause - c'mon - if it wasn't her, someone did a DAMN good impression of her): WHAT exactly did I do, teach or say to imply that I think college students are all a bunch of drunken, horny sleazes? Could it be how much I discussed sexually transmitted infections? I didn't mean to imply that all students have them - it's just, you know, there is a chapter called (wait for it): Sexually Transmitted Infections. Was it maybe how I discussed a variety of methods of birth control and their success/failure rates, as well as benefits and costs? Could it be that your instructor thinks you are all just a big bunch of sluts who are out trying to NOT get pregnant every night? Could be, or it could be that there is a chapter called, (dramatic pause) Contraception!!!
On a lighter note, one student (I'm guessing male) wrote, "All the guest speakers were great, but next time, try to get a REAL, TRUE hustler like Hugh Hefner." Okay, pal. I'll get right on that. Thanks for the suggestion.