C.A.P.E. reviews don't reveal all aspects

    Disgusted readers (32) overwhelmingly denounced the column as “”liberal tripe,”” criticizing it in particular for taking “”potshots”” at helpless A.S. Council members and actions. Not all readers found “”Horse’s Mouth”” one of the most reviled portions of newsprint on campus; a few souls (3) found the writing the best thing since canned ravioli. Additional comments include too few llamas (9), an overabundance of unnecessarily polysyllabic descriptors (6) and generally too much reading assigned (23,424).

    Now, while Course And Professor Evaluations works hard over the school year and summer to bring us paragraphs like the one above, they are by and large useless to anyone actually trying to get a handle on how the course and professors rate. Sure, it may be relatively simple to find the stellar professors who teach with such aptitude, their likenesses should be placed on a marble pillar in the middle of the Price Center, in front of which there should be mandated ritualistic sacrifices every dawn. But by and large, the paragraphs are useless because the “”essential characteristics”” that the C.A.P.E. editors try to glean from illegible notes scrawled in all of three minutes of contemplation can do little to characterize the course or the teaching style in a manner that is useful to either students or the department.

    This is not to say that C.A.P.E. is entirely useless; the enrollment statistics and percentage that recommend the course and professor are extremely helpful. But this writer is left wondering why all of the bubbles that the students fill are not all reported; the average hours of study time would no doubt be a useful measure. Perhaps it is because of sheer lack of space in the C.A.P.E. book; but it seems to make little sense to print the thing and sell it at near cost when it would cost much less to put everything up on an online database and allow everyone to see the range of statistics. If it is a simple manner of recouping costs, can anyone scrounge a few thousand dollars to pay the editors and runners, in an endeavor that, when implemented properly (which may be the entire problem), is no doubt of great service to undergraduates?

    Some intrepid fellows have started a Web site at http://www.ucsdprofessors.com that has been advertised by a somewhat ragged and drooping poster in the Price Center over the past two weeks. Although the domain name is mostly down, when this writer managed to catch it in one of its somewhat-alive moments, it had all the trappings of what might make a good rating evaluation: plenty of numbers reported and spaces for every student to report comments. The only problem is that the site has almost no traffic. Thus, maybe a rather simple way of getting an honest, detailed course evaluation from other students is to integrate it into StudentLink somehow.

    While filling in bubbles and gathering statistics will no doubt garner a wider sample during lectures, it seems the plausible online way of getting detailed paragraphs (a la http://www.amazon.com) is to put the entire process online. When looking up one’s final schedules, perhaps, in week nine or 10, maybe a request could be put next to each course on the schedule requesting reviews. Again, Amazon.com style, other students could rate the reviews, determining which came to the top and were seen first and providing an incentive to provide thorough evaluations. And since it could be run through StudentLink, instead of a third party, like http://www.ucsdprofessors.com, simple measures could prevent ballot stuffing against professors either reviled or loved.

    While C.A.P.E. no doubt serves an important purpose because no online polling would ever be able to achieve the same number of responses that showing up at individual lectures provides, the lone C.A.P.E. editor cramming a mishmash of answers into a barely coherent paragraph is no replacement for detailed, unedited student reviews.

    This writer, at least, finds that the vast majority of useful information he gets about courses and professors gets passed by word of mouth, not through C.A.P.E. That seems rather 20th century when the infrastructure that makes detailed evaluations instantly accessible is sitting at our fingertips. Kudos to whoever is (somewhat) putting up http://www.ucsdprofessors.com, but no doubt an official system attached to StudentLink would be best — or at least better than what some writers (1) think of what passes as useful information in C.A.P.E.

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