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Should course evaluations be made public?

Should course evaluations be made public?

It’s safe to say that we’re in-deep with information–overloaded by it many would say–and it’s easier to get to and consume more than ever.  This includes course evaluation data.  With the habitual collection of this information (often online), some institutions are taking it public, while others are grappling with the idea.

The GW Hatchet (a student-run newspaper at The George Washington University) published an article declaring the need for public evaluation results. The argument is that sharing the data, in a segmented fashion (student-appropriate vs. faculty and administration), would benefit the entire institution. Maralee Csellar, University spokeswoman, commented that officials are “supportive of efforts to increase transparency” by making course evaluation results public. “If course evaluations are made publicly available, we hope they would help students select courses relative to their own learning style.”

We’ve seen a number of institutions successfully share data from course evaluations using our custom reporting features, and it seems to be a growing trend.  Some are required to do so through legislation, and others find the technique popular with their campus community. We’d like to know what you think about this practice.  Are you sharing course evaluation results at your institution, and if so, what benefits or issues have you discovered?