Surveys and silliness

By Legal Eagle

It has been a hectic few weeks. Teaching has ended for the year. As always, I got a corker of a comment in the student feedback surveys. One student said that I should “dress up as a gangsta” and bring my daughter to class as an example of “ginger power”. That made me laugh. I don’t even know exactly what dressing like a gangsta is, but I suspect it’s not something I’d normally do. My husband is wondering if I did anything to provoke the gangsta comment (wore bling, carried a glock, talked about my beee-artches or anything like that?). No, I did not. I suspect it was totally random.

Last semester, one of the comments suggested that I should run for Prime Minister because I would be more awesome than John Howard. I told the class that I am obviously more awesome than John Howard, but I won’t be becoming a politician any time soon. I’m far too tactless for the job. Not that I’d go as far as Tony Abbott – rudeness is not my style – but if someone asked me what I thought on a matter, I’d probably blurt out what I really thought, not the party policy, and then I’d get in trouble.

There is also a “multiple choice” part of the questionnaire that students must fill out. It contains a really silly question which says something like “I felt part of a group of students and staff who were committed to learning”. What does that mean exactly? There’s too many variables. I suspect that the real question is whether the teacher actually cares about his or her subject and the students. One always enjoys a subject more if the teacher is enthusiastic. I like the written comments on the questionnaires the best. They are the bits I take to heart, both positive and negative.

Does anyone else have trouble filling out multiple choice forms? I always find that there’s not a box for the option I want. Perhaps I am just strange. But I was filling out a government form the other day, and got very frustrated. Grr. And every now and again I do those marketing multiple choice surveys, and they ask dumb questions like does an ad for a particular brand of car or beer make me feel confident or sexy. Um, no. Ads generally make me yawn. Luckily I don’t need no car or beer to make me feel good, wiggity whack.


  1. pete m
    Posted November 2, 2007 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    hi, any news on next year’s appointment?
    have fun marking
    Unless a survey measures something like what ad made you buy / use their goods/service, I treat them like any other statistic garbage – with as little attention as possible. I too often find no answer to my choice, and start to wonder at the designer of the questions / answers!

    re gangsta – I think they want you to break out and try something dangerous fashion wise, to perhaps break the boredom of the subject (pls don’t shoot me for calling it boring!).

    ps it’s boring!

  2. Posted November 2, 2007 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Unnngggg… I had to sit in on a committee where end of semester surveys was discussed. They always ask the questions that nobody cares about. I suggested that at least one of the questions should be generated by students (ie an issue raised by the students association within reason of course).

    At UniSA, the questionnaires are so disconnected from actual student interests that they don’t get filled out. And when they don’t get filled out, they contribute to the stats as a negative.

    Ironic that a lecturer could get a negative result that reflects crappy statistics rather than crappy lecturing. Unfair as well.

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