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Evaluating a Semester

May 8, 2013   

The course evaluation period is always an appropriate time to reflect on the past semester on the Hill.  The Dean of Faculty’s office just released evaluations for this spring.  Most of the time, these questionnaires are quick and painless, taking no more than 30 minutes to complete.  But each one brings forth a host of memories from the past semester—assignments that were particularly long and arduous, moments of success that I wanted to last forever, moments of failure I would rather forget.  Often times, I don’t realize my final impressions of a class until I submit the evaluation.

Right off, the questionnaires ask me to describe my commitment to the class.  Did I complete work on time, was I attentive during lectures, was I late to class or was I early?  I think back and consider how engaging the class material was.  When topics piqued my interest, I worked especially hard to understand them, often conducting my own unofficial research to fully flush out a subject. 

This happened especially often in my German and Macroeconomics courses.  Over the past few months, I frequented the German Wikipedia, looking up the histories of certain authors or literary periods. I also subscribed to The Economist to stay informed of global economic issues.  I realize now that most of my free time was dominated by this independent research, but I was happy to do it.

The questionnaires then move on to the professors, asking me to evaluate their interactions with students, their teaching styles, their comments on graded work… the list goes on.  The evaluations sort through every detail imaginable to see how professors perform in the classroom.  Luckily, I have never been forced to give a bad review—all of my professors have been knowledgeable, professional and most importantly, friendly.

It has been a good semester.  There was never a class that I dreaded, never a moment that I wasted. I was challenged, but never too stressed.  And in a few days, classes will be over.