Student - September 29, 2011

Lecturers must get a 7: good idea?


Students at Fontys University of Applied Science are allowed to give their lecturers marks out of 10. And that will have real consequences: from now on lecturers need to score at least a 7. Is this the right approach?

The State Secretary for Education, Halbe Zijlstra, thinks it is. 'They are making some really good moves', he said in the Lower House on 26 September on the subject of Fontys University of Applied Science. He praises the university board for its ambitions and approves of the performance targets the university has set itself.
People in Wageningen are rather less enthusiastic about the plans. André van Lammeren, a plant cell biologist and elected Teacher of the Year in 2010, calls it 'a bridge too far'. 'Assessments by students can give guidance and goad you into action. But I think it is rather excessive if a lecturer can be dumped because of a poor evaluation.'
Student party VeSte also thinks it is a dubious idea to give students a decisive vote in the assessment of lecturers. 'If the group is small, one dissatisfied student will soon have a big influence on the final result', says Willemijn Sneller. 'As far as we are concerned, the current evaluation procedure in Wageningen is good enough. It is taken very seriously and the University uses it to improve its lecturers. It is therefore very important for students to fill in those evaluations.'
Student assessments are not the be-all and end-all, says Pascal ten Have of the National Students' Union. 'Some subjects are just not much fun, they are difficult and you have to work hard. You can't hold a lecturer accountable for getting a low mark for those subjects. But the plan is obviously a step in the right direction.'