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Volume CXXXIII, Number 10
November 21, 2003

BSG set to debut professor evaluation website

For many Bowdoin students, collecting feedback on various classes and professors make the days before the course registration deadline a chaotic blur.

A webpage designed by the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) that will be up and running in the near future aims to ease some of that confusion by creating a place for students to post feedback on courses and professors.

"Rather than having to actively search for fellow students, students will be able to see the reviews and opinions of their peers in an online format in a quicker fashion," said BSG Vice President of Academic Affairs Riquelmy Sosa '05, who is overseeing the development and implementation of the site.

"This is primarily a course evaluation website, where most of the questions will be geared towards a critique of the course and not primarily toward the professor," Sosa explained, though she added, "professors are undoubtedly an essential component of courses and questions regarding professor's quality will be asked." In this way, the site differs from the internet site ratemyprofessors.com, which focuses more on the individual professor and less on the quality of the class and the professor in that context.

The BSG began work on the system last year. "At the earliest it will be available in late December, and it will definitely be accessible by next semester," said Sosa. Students contributing to information on the website will answer a series of specific questions based on a class and the professor teaching it. Information seekers will log on using the same username and password as the email and Bearings accounts.

The format of the site "is similar to the format that is used for teacher evaluations with specific questions and comment boxes," Sosa explained. Despite efforts to prevent targeting of specific individuals, Sosa said that she "anticipate[s] that there will be mixed reviews within the faculty, as I have heard both support and dissent from professors about the website." She believes that the site overall "will have a positive impact on the student body."

Many students appreciate the prospect of accessible feedback on professors and courses, especially during course registration periods.

"[The BSG webpage] could be really useful for students picking classes, in order to figure out what professors are good and why, specifically, they are well-liked," said Sam Donovan '07.

Others feel that while the concept of the site is a good idea, it is open to biases and should not replace actually speaking to individuals who have experienced a specific class or professor.

"I can see how [this website] could be really helpful, especially for first-years," said Vanessa Lind '06. "However, you have to keep in mind that you are only getting the feedback of some of the students, and that their opinion of a professor can be influenced by whether or not the personally got along with him or her, so you don't necessarily get an idea of what a professor is really like."

"[The website] will focus more on what you are tested on in a class, how you are tested, and the sets of skills required, not only whether a professor is good or bad," said BSG President Jason Hafter '04.

"We want to reach out to all students, and allow them to learn what different classes and professors are all about."

The webpage will likely be run by students for students, with minimal faculty and administrative involvement. Zachary Gittens '06 and Mark Hendrickson '07 are currently working on developing the website layout and preparing it for student use. Students on the Academic Affairs Committee, including Sosa, will prevent the abuse of information and oversee the general website use.

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