Dalhousie takes course evaluations public

Student survey results will be available in time for the fall

Dalhousie University students won’t need to use next year to pick classes, with professor and course evaluations being made public.

While student leaders are hailing the decision as necessary for improving the quality of education, making sure professors aren’t badmouthed online is a hurdle the school says it can overcome. Allan Shaver, vice-president of academics at Dalhousie told the CBC he doesn’t foresee any issues. “I get to see all the course evaluations, and the professors of this university have nothing to fear,” he said.

At most universities, students are required to fill out questionnaires after completing a class, asking them to rank items like the appropriateness of the workload, and the professor’s availability for out-of-class consultation.

Students typically rely on word-of-mouth from peers as to which classes they want to enroll in. When went online, students could look to user-generated comments for insight into a class, but comments on the site appear mostly unmoderated and tend to deviate from academics.

At Saint Mary’s University the student’s association pulled their online rating system because of “uneven participation and unfiltered comments,” the CBC reported.

While rules for the system at Dalhousie are still being finalized, online commenting won’t be allowed and professors can opt to keep their results private.

Dalhousie’s evaluations will be made public for the 2010-2011 school year.