Faculty of Arts deletes option in subject evaluations due to rude comments

The board of the Faculty of Arts has turned off the comments option in course evaluations. Some teachers experience the tone and content of these comments as unpleasant, and they feel unsafe.

The board made the decision after the latest staff survey. The comments are sometimes sexist and racist, teachers say.

Students receive a digital evaluation at the end of a course in which they can rate the course on various points by choosing a number from 1 to 5 (from poor to excellent).

Previously, there was also an option where students could indicate what they liked about the course and what they felt needed improvement. That option has recently been taken out.

Rude

What kind of rude comments students left and how many teachers had to deal with them is impossible to say, according to arts spokesperson Marijn van Bronkhorst.

‘We turned it off because of the way people responded to our survey’, she says. ‘There is no further information available when it comes to numbers or specific comments.’

Missing context

Not every student is happy with it. ‘We need it to provide context on our feedback’, says arts student Maria Flori. Answers on a scale of 1 to 5, she says, are not enough to really understand how a subject is assessed.

‘I just experienced it with a methodology course’, she says. ‘There were fifty students and many of us found it incredibly difficult. We wanted to share our thoughts about it so we can help improve the course.’

If all students had a chance to give open feedback, the lecturer could have easily seen what the issue was and so might have been able to adjust something, she argues.

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