Student - May 12, 2011

A nutty issue

I'm nuts about petty and meaningless researches. Like the one featured in 'The Press' about judges giving lighter sentences after a meal break, or that snacking on nuts can really make you happier. What has prompted such researches? I don't know. Have they been carried out correctly? That doesn't bother me a bit at all. I'm just one petty detail richer and what's more, those researches don't affect me.

Honestly speaking, I also consider our subject evaluations as petty and meaningless. Most of the time, I remember that I have a questionnaire to fill in at the eleventh hour, and then I would hastily fill it in before, after, or even during a meal. Chomp chomp, there it goes. 'How would you rate this subject in general?'  Well, we go on excursions often and the lessons were really useful. Let's see, that would be 5 upon 5 marks (just after eating the nuts). As for the other policy subject, hmm ... that's tricky; there weren't any excursions and we even had to pay administration costs. But, is that relevant? Well, not really. I gave the other subject a  4 (getting hungry again), didn't I? So, I'll give this a 4 also.
These evaluation results can't really be compared side by side. While one subject has responses from 27 participants, another has to make do with a sampling of views from nine. Moreover, students do not take a subject in a random manner. And yet, Wageningen University uses the survey results in lecturer evaluations. As far as I'm concerned, it goes against my intuition as a nature conservationist to heap even more on the top dog. It's like giving extra feed to wood pigeons but putting down the black-tailed Godwit. ('It's your own fault, black-tailed godwits, for not hatching enough young ones'). But isn't this ridiculous?

How can a university - which teaches us how to carry out research - award subject bonuses (one million euros in total) in such a way? In addition, the issue will naturally affect students. What if that policy subject of mine had been graded excellently last year? Then there might have been no need to impose those administrative costs at all, and there would be money for an extra lecture. So take my advice: go and buy some nuts first before you tackle those subject evaluations.