Plan to Post Students' Professor Evaluations Opposed

University of Nevada, Reno
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A plan by University of Nevada, Reno students to post their evaluations of professors online is drawing opposition from faculty.

Student government leaders want the Board of Regents to make the evaluations public record instead of private confidential information.

Leaders recommended approval of the plan at the urging of student senator Travis Hoppe, a math and physics major from Las Vegas.

"Making them public would hold teachers accountable," Hoppe told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "There are a lot of good teachers here, but there are a few inept ones.

"Some of them don't care anymore. They're more concerned with holding onto their jobs than teaching us," he added.

But UNR's Faculty Senate opposes the proposal.

"Because they are used when determining promotion and merit, the faculty felt they need to remain confidential," said Dr. Trudy Larson, chairwoman of the Faculty Senate.

Student evaluations conducted at the end of each semester are placed in teachers' confidential personnel files and used in annual reviews by department chairs.

The evaluations ask students to rate professors and instructors on their teaching skills, and some ask for students' comments. Students do not sign the evaluations.

Angela Bolte of UNR's philosophy department said other universities make students' evaluations public. They include Washington University, which she attended.

"It was information that was published every spring and fall," Bolte said. "I would say it should be done here, but I would not suggest displaying all of the data."

Hoppe said an informal student-generated survey might be an option if regents decide not to make the evaluations public.

"My whole reason for this is to let students know what a teacher is like," he said.