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student evaluation

Thu Jul 11 14:53:14 EST 1996

Chris Boake related some anecdotes about her student teaching evaluations.
At the risk of revealing the fact that there are males who read (and
enjoy) this list regularly, I thought she would appreciate some anecdotes
from my own evaluations:

>From: cboake at utk.edu
>Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 13:57:26 -0400
>I thought that some of you might enjoy the following comment, which
>startled me because it belongs a few decades earlier.  I taught
>introductory genetics this spring, and just received the written remarks
>from students (we ask them to fill out a scan form type evaluation and
>also give them a sheet for answers to some questions).  In answer to the
>question, "What aspects of this class detracted from your learning?" the
>student wrote "colorless dress of instructor."  This leads to interesting
>speculation (beyond the obvious of whether male faculty ever receive
>similar comments):

      They sure do.  I routinely get comments about my style of dress
("way too shabby.  Can't he afford a tie?"  "He wore the same jeans
two days in a row.  Ugh!").  Also my current state of grooming ("I HATE
his new haircut!"  "I like the way he trims his beard").  And my general
"appearance" in the classroom ("Nice butt."  "Tell him that we don't care how
how it was today.  He should NEVER wear shorts to class again."  ...and,
mercifully   "Cute legs")

> Should I have dressed like the majority of students, in
>old t-shirts and jeans?  Should I emulate my elegant colleagues in the art
>dept?  Should I emulate colleagues in my own dept, who wear jeans and
>t-shirts?  Would the student have stayed awake if I had worn gaudy
>clothes?  Were my clothes in fact colorless or did this student only come
>to class just before my laundry days?  Should I make sure to wear bright
>clothes on days that I give tests?
    Hey!  Why not dress in a way that is functional (I don't wear good
clothes when I'm doing labwork, which is most of the time) and comfortable,
and not worry about what the students think?  After years and years of
reading teaching evaluations, I've come to the conclusion that the ones
who feel the need to comment on your dress, hairstyle, shoes, and body
shape are not going to tell you anything worth reading about how to
improve your teaching technique!

                                    Ken Miller  /   Brown Univ.

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