So, let's talk about course evaluations. Fun topic, right? For most of us, it's not all that fun, especially if your school uses these to determine if you'll get more classes to teach or maybe even if you'll get a raise. I've gotten both but not based on course evals. Some of my course evals are just horrible and the comments from some students are downright nasty and blatantly false. Hopefully most faculty supervisors know this but let's face it, some don't.
In a nutshell, what happens is that the complainers and whiners fill out course evaluation forms and look at this as an opportunity to really get back at professors who "gave them bad grades." What they don't say is that the students don't do the work and that's why they got bad grades. The funny thing is that the students who send personal emails with wonderful comments don't usually complete course evaluations. They figure that since they emailed, there's no need to do the course eval. Even when I write back thanking them for the email and requesting that they include their comments on the course eval, most don't do that.
Students don't realize that our supervisors often base our continued employment on these course evaluations. So now I have a public and verifiable response to my school for all the nasty and false comments on those evals. I've been doing this for several years. I do this in pre-designed courses as well as in the courses I write and teach.
During the last week, I put up a public discussion board forum called Course Reflection. Then I invite students to tell me what they liked and did not like about the course and to include suggestions for making it better.
This is an official and verifiable record of what students REALLY think of my class and of my teaching. It's right there in the course. This is the perfect way to PROVE how students really feel about your class. A professor could falsify email comments but there's no way (okay there's always a way but not likely to happen) to do that on a public class forum. I do make copies of these to keep for my records in case a school archives a course and I can't access it any longer.
It's amazing to me how a little anonymity can bring out the very worst in people. When I used to give professors poor evaluations I actually signed my name and requested the person who read the course evaluations contact me. I actually had one professor contact me once. We had a very nice conversation.
So if you're a good professor who is receiving horrible course evaluations from your students, consider using a public reflection forum at the end of your class session.