Making the grade

Chico State University students may soon be grading their professors.

The Associated Students is currently in the process of developing a new Web site that will enable students to do a little research before taking a class from a particular instructor as well as participate in the reviewing process. The site will allow students to give anonymous feedback in order to help others find professors and courses that match their learning style.

Natalie Fink, director of university affairs for the Associated Students, is spearheading the project, which she hopes will be completed by the end of the spring 2005 semester.

“[The site] would help students know what they’re getting into beforehand,” Fink said.

Fink was first introduced to the concept during her tenure at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill and said the idea has been kicking around the A.S. for nearly 20 years. She said the Chico State version would be a separate entity from the university itself and that the A.S. would run the site.

Fink said the new site is essentially being modeled after the Professor and Course Evaluation system at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, which was developed by members of its Associated Students about seven years ago.

Approximately 40 to 50 questions will be grouped into sections, including instructional style, workload and grading. The evaluation would cover everything from usefulness of lectures and clarity of exams, to what types of tests are used in a particular course.

Fink said five responses will be available to students including, “strongly agree,” “agree,” “strongly disagree,” “disagree” and “no opinion,” and be represented by bar graphs.

Fink stressed that the Web site would be a far cry from the popular, which she said offers only three categories—clarity, helpfulness and easiness—and even includes an optional section for attractiveness.

Another concern Fink has with the site is that students don’t even have to be enrolled in a class to participate and the comment portion of the site is open to arbitrary remarks and personal attacks.

“Those questions are not very focused and are open to interpretation,” Fink said.

Fink said the yet-to-be-named site will be a valuable tool for both students and professors. She added that there are still some logistical details to be worked out as well as question development for the site before it ultimately goes before the A.S. for approval. She said the A.S. is also asking that enrollment data be examined to make sure students have taken a particular class before making evaluations of it.

"I have no doubt there will be things to adjust," Fink said. "We’ll cross all the bridges when we come to them."