Checking Up on Profs

From ABC News: “Texas Professors Wary of New Controversial Law”

Passed unanimously in 2009, Texas Legislative House Bill 2504 is the first of its kind in the nation. Under the new law, all public Texas universities will be required to provide an array of free, detailed and public information on their websites about courses, professors and the cost of attending school. It aims to help students make informed decisions what college to attend, what classes to take and which professors they want to study with which would, in theory, reduce the cost of attending school.

“The cost of higher education is constantly rising for students,” said Republican State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, who authored the bill. “If we can provide students and parents with more information before they pick a class, a major or a school, hopefully they will be able to spend their money more efficiently.”

Professors say that the new law attempts to turn state universities into businesses and will limit a student’s experience to a strict regimen of “perfect courses,” cheapening the academic experience.

“Faculty believe that earning a degree at a major research university is not simply an issue of taking courses for which students need consumer information of the sort that this bill attempts to secure,” said Janet Staiger, a professor in the Radio-Television-Film department at the University of Texas.

Here’s the best part:

Students also say that being able to see other students’ comments and assessments of professors will help them choose classes that work well for them.

“It will be great to read what other students think of the professor [from previous semester’s evaluations],” Bennett said. “That way you can match what type of learner you are to the professor that best suits you.”

This just cracks me up because most of the time about 30% of students (maybe) fill out those forms.  And the ones who really want to fill out those forms are the ones who don’t like you.  They are some terribly objective form of evaluation.  And, please, Ms. Bennett.  When you say “to the professor that best suits you”, I think you may mean the one who doesn’t make people work, think, or push themselves.  Because let’s face it, 19-year-old college students often are not fans of that.  Trust me on this one.

All of the information must be available without a login or password – making it free to any individual – and no more than three clicks away from the school’s home page. […]

“Really, this bill is about control,” Curtis said. “It is about controlling curriculum. It is a way to target professors who may get ‘out of line’ or deviate from the rigid syllabus.”

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One thought on “Checking Up on Profs

  1. I might be misunderstanding some of the article, since I’m from Canada, and our university system is different sometimes, but most of that sounds like info you would normally have (like, what the tuition is and what the course offerings are — I would be kind of suspicious of a school that didn’t tell me up front what the cost was). Everywhere I ever went, they gave you a syllabus on the first day, too.

    I agree with you, though that it doesn’t make sense for schools to publish a burn book about their own profs on the internet (that’s what ratemyprofessors.com is for, you guys). The only info people are really looking for is whether the prof is a hard marker. If you want to know that, what ever happened to just asking other students? You know, informally, without a law?

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