Evaluations analyzed

By Caryn Rosenberg

As teacher evaluations roll around, many NIU students are left wondering how effective these evaluations really are.

Teacher evaluations are done within every department each semester to better education at NIU. Evaluations are completed by students to give departments an idea of student impressions of their teachers’ abilities.

Charles Pennel, director of undergraduate studies for the English department, said when the English department receives the evaluations, they are distributed to the teachers as well as to the departmental council, which makes decisions about general policies and annual merit evaluations.

“The evaluations give teachers a sense of how they compare to other teachers,” Pennel said.

Pennel said good evaluations generally show students feel they are respected and treated fairly by their teachers.

“My evaluations tell me whether or not I treated the students decently,” Pennel said. “(The Department) thinks they give us valuable information and they are taken into account very seriously when evaluating teachers.”

Evaluations usually affect raises of teachers, but English department Chair James Miller said financial rewards for good teaching were not possible for the past few years.

“In the last two to three years we haven’t had much of a raise so raises have been across the board,” Miller said. “There have been no merit raises.”

Miller said although many teachers chose their profession because they enjoyed the field, rather than because of the money, the lack of reward might eventually lead to a lack of effort as well.

“We count on a certain amount of idealism and hope that the idealism will keep (the teachers) going even when we can’t provide a financial reward,” Miller said.

However, students are often not aware of their conclusions.

Student Regent James Mertes said he doesn’t think the evaluations help students enough.

“They should be made public,” Mertes said. “They should be made accessible for students to find out about the teachers.”