The Candor

Does taking IDEA surveys really matter?

by Kiran Munir


Students and faculty have mixed emotions about the IDEA surveys that are used to evaluate professors at the end of every semester. The real question is: Do these surveys make a difference?

Director of Writing, Dr. Jean-Marie Kauth, shared her concern. “There is a danger in weighing the IDEAs too heavily, chiefly because they are often not very reliable, if only a small number of students fill them out.”

Others disagree.

“A few bad reviews here and there will not hurt the professor; instead the surveys serve as a feedback to help the teacher improve,” says coordinator of IDEA surveys, Dr. Wangler.

Wangler also emphasized that this survey is only “a piece of the puzzle to assess faculty”. He says that there are many other  variables taken into consideration, like peer evaluation.

While there are students that feel the surveys are an opportunity to express their opinion about their classes, some consider the survey time consuming and annoying.

“You keep getting emails until you complete the survey and it is so annoying so finally you decide to get it over with,” said sophomore Miranda Henderson.

BenU pays for this survey to be conducted because the results help decide on which area needs improvement.

The first part of the survey contains questions to rate the professor and the course on a one to five scale. The second part allows the students to describe the strengths and weaknesses of the professor and the course in greater detail.

“They may be used for salary increasing purposes,” revealed former Dean of the College of Science Ralph D. Meeker.

According to Meeker, the results for each course and teacher are compared to the scores of other classes within that specific college, to other classes at Benedictine University and then to the national results.

“The results are viewed by not only department chairs and the dean of colleges,” shared Dr. Andrew Wig, current coordinator of the IDEA surveys, “but also by the board of trustees to verify the success of various disciplinary programs.”

The results are taken very seriously. “If the teacher falls in the bottom 30 percent when compared to national average, then that is a sign for improvement,” says Meeker.

According to Wangler, “If a teacher gets multiple bad reviews, the department chair calls in the teacher for a discussion about how to improve for the future.”

Kauth argues that the objectives are not a perfect match for course and university-level objectives.

Some students are worried about the privacy of their responses, but others are confident that their answers will remain anonymous.

“I feel they are confidential and I can say the truth without being fearful of discrimination,” sophomore Amreen Barde shared.

“Filling out the surveys online is an attempt to increase confidentiality and student responses,” Wig said. “The surveys do not have student names on them when the responses are printed out nor are they distributed until the professors have submitted all the grades.”

Many students appreciate the chance to give feedback about their experiences.

“I think they are good. It’s our opportunity to talk about the professors and rate them,” junior Besa Krasniqi shared, “but I do not say that the professor “sucked” or they should be fired, but instead state improvements.”