Course Evaluations and the First Year Student

alt= Elizabeth standing in front of the University College building a couple days before the fall term starts

The course evaluation period for the Winter 2019 academic session opens in end-of-March. As an undergraduate student in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, the wide range of available courses taught by different professors makes course selection a challenging task. Luckily, course evaluations have proved to be instrumental in narrowing down the list of courses.

By reviewing course evaluations filled out by students who have actually taken the course, I’m more prepared going into the course. I have a good idea of what to expect from the professor and what to gain from the course.

Course evaluations provide “faculty, academic administrators, and students meaningful information about students’ learning experiences in U of T courses, both broadly speaking and within the context of each academic discipline.” Students can access course evaluation data via Quercus.

I also fill out course evaluations in hopes of providing valuable feedback to course instructors who have developed the course as well as other students who might be interested in enrolling. It is a way for me to voice my likes and dislikes about a course and/or how it was taught.

For example, I really enjoyed a course in the fall term because the professor made the lectures and the material very engaging. I am a books-based person and heavy notetaker, so I was pleased to see that all PowerPoint slides were organized, uniform, and informative. She also explained the material clearly, reading what was on the slides but also elaborating on them and providing examples. Her teaching style was particularly conducive to my learning style, and I was happy to share that in my course evaluations at the end of the term. Some may weigh other factors more heavily than the ones I listed, but that is precisely why such feedback is useful in determining which courses you enroll in or which professors you select.

On top of assisting students with course selection, course evaluations give instructors insight on how they might “improve the learning environment for the courses.” This may involve changing the message of the course or adjusting their teaching styles.

For example, instructors teaching a course for the first time may find it particularly useful to hear student feedback and how the course might be modified or improved for future sections. Students may also share what they consider to be beneficial to their learning whether it be class discussions, guest speakers, or interactive projects.

Find out the evaluation periods for the Winter 2019 academic session for each division:

By Elizabeth Chan