Editorial: Thank your instructors


UConn freshpersons discuss teaching in  FYE 1820.003 Education for Social change course in the Rowe building on Wednesday, Feb. 24. This is contrasted against a larger lecture in Laurel Hall taken on the same day. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

As most students know, time is almost up for the semiannual Student Evaluation of Teaching (or SET) surveys. Instructors love these surveys, with most taking the time to mention them and some even giving little bonuses to students who fill them out.

Professors and other teachers often say these surveys are a big aid in helping them to grow and better themselves. When a student lists specific problems, the instructor can take these into account for the next time they teach the course. Teachers cannot know what the inner thoughts and feelings of their students are unless the students say so.

When phrased like this, though, SET surveys seem so negative. It’s like the only feedback instructors expect to receive is criticism. While constructive, it is just as important to note what makes courses and teachers great. Positive feedback can be just as effective as negative feedback.

This is helpful to let instructors know what they shouldn’t change, or perhaps even what they should lean into more in the future. So, if certain classes were much more engaging than others, say so. To the instructor, they are teaching and leading either way. By noting which methods work best, they can adapt future lessons to this to make the class more exciting in total. Not only is this helpful to the instructor, but it is also a service to students taking the class in the future.

Much more than this, though, showing appreciation for courses and instructors is just kind. On a personal level, instructors enjoy knowing what they did well, how they touched the lives of their students. To a certain extent, they pride themselves on it. It gives them motivation for what they do.

Think on how nice it is to receive a compliment, especially on something you worked hard on in order to succeed. Of course, this feeling can be sensed sometimes; the mood and energy of a classroom can be telling. The added effort of verbalizing these opinions, however, speaks volumes.

The SET surveys are anonymous. It takes very little effort to give some sort of nice statement in one of the free responses. If that is not enough to describe the personal connection you had with a professor, send them an email or meet in person. In any case, try to show some appreciation to those who define your college experience, exemplify why you are in your major or even just represent the model professor. Kindness goes a long way.

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