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Grad Student Z

Thanks for this (and all the other) helpful posts. Do you think there is a reason to include unedited student comments as opposed to a selection of student comments along with a website link to the original evaluations (including student comments)?

I'm also wondering how to approach the quantitative data in the following cases:

(i) You are slightly below university and department averages (e.g., less than a 1 point difference with 5 being the maximum) for a particular semester (e.g., your first time teaching), but above those averages for subsequent semesters. Is it worth including all of the data with the the hope that committees will interpret this as exhibiting improvement over time?

(ii) You are above university averages, but slightly below department averages (e.g., less than a 1 point difference with 5 being the maximum). Would you recommend only including a comparison to the university averages (and excluding the department averages)? Or could that come across as if you have something to hide?

(iii) On some metrics, you are above university averages, but below department averages; on others, you are above department averages, but below university averages. Should you include everything? Nothing?

Thanks in advance!


This is a response to Grad Student Z. I know it's way too late, but with luck it will help other people (or next year, though... well, let's not think too much about next year).

The reason to include unedited comments is in the post: to show that you're not hiding anything. Everyone gets nasty comments, and this shows you are not 'tweaking' your evals too much. But what you suggest is good too. Just be ready for people to look up the comments. Marcus Arvan emphasizes how tired people are above, which is true, but they're also curious :-)

Another option is to pick some feature or features of your teaching to highlight, as Arvan mentions above. Then choose student comments that illustrate that students found those features helpful: "I liked how the professor had us ask quick questions on paper at the end of class, and then answered them the next time, since that helped me to get my questions answered quickly", for instance.

In your two cases:

(i) If you start out below the averages and improve, that is definitely something to highlight. If you took courses, read up on teaching, asked a mentor for help/training, or otherwise did anything to improve your teaching in the meantime, definitely say so.

A trajectory of improving plus working on your teaching is a very good sign. That can result in a better teacher at the end of the road than someone who, say, is very friendly and so does okay with students from the get go, but then rests on their laurels and doesn't put in the effort to improve over time.

(ii) You don't have to include university or department averages for student eval scores and metrics, just the maximum and minimum and your scores. But you could say that, say, 70% of the time you're over department averages, as that is significant, and doesn't hide anything.

Good luck.

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