Should questions about race be included in course evaluations? Let’s dive in.
When it comes to academic course evaluation surveys, the inclusion of a race question can often be a source of controversy. While some argue that collecting data on race can help to identify and address any potential disparities or biases within the education system, others argue that asking students to disclose their racial identity can be both unnecessary and potentially discriminatory.
As a society, we have come a long way in terms of addressing racial disparities in education, but there is still much work to be done. One area where progress is sorely needed is in the administration of course evaluations. Course evaluations are important for providing feedback to instructors and for helping to improve the quality of education provided to students.
However, research has shown that students of color often view course evaluations as having a bias against them, and the inclusion of a race question in the survey could further heighten this perception.
The issue of bias in course evaluations is not a new one. Previous studies have shown that students of color are often evaluated differently than white students. This is because course evaluations typically focus on subjective characteristics such as communication skills, availability, and knowledge of the subject matter. These characteristics are often tied to biases that students may have based on race, gender, or other factors.
The inclusion of a race question in the survey could further exacerbate this bias. If students are asked to identify their race as part of the survey, they may feel that their responses are being evaluated based on their race rather than on the quality of their feedback. This could lead to a perception of bias and a feeling of unfairness.
To ensure that course evaluation surveys are fair, equitable, and sensitive to all students, it is important to maintain the focus on teaching performance and course content. Questions that focus on the race of a student should be avoided in order to ensure that the survey results are unbiased and accurate. Instead, course evaluations should focus on objective criteria such as the quality of instruction, the depth of the subject matter, and the level of engagement with students.
Additionally, instructors should receive training on how to interpret course evaluation results in order to identify potential biases and address them appropriately. This could include identifying patterns in the responses of students of color and working to address any areas where there may be a bias present.
For example, a white student might be more likely to rate a white professor higher than a professor of color, even if both professors are equally skilled and knowledgeable. This could skew the results and create a false perception of a professor’s performance based solely on their race.
Furthermore, asking students to disclose their racial identity can be seen as invasive and discriminatory. Race is a protected class, and students should not be compelled to disclose their racial identity if they do not want to. This data could potentially be used in ways that harm students or perpetuate systemic discrimination.
By including a race question on academic course evaluation surveys, institutions run the risk of discouraging students from responding honestly.
Students may be hesitant to disclose their race for fear of bias, but not answering the question at all could also skew the results.
Adding a race question can actually distort the accuracy of the survey and impact the education system’s ability to grow and improve.
The inclusion of a race question on an academic course evaluation survey is not necessary and could potentially lead to bias in the results. While it’s important to address issues of diversity and inclusion in the education system, there are other ways to collect data on these topics that do not violate student privacy or put them at risk of bias.
Ultimately, academic course evaluation surveys should focus on the quality of education and the performance of professors, rather than unnecessary and potentially harmful information about students’ race. Evaluations should focus on teaching performance and course content, and instructors should receive training to identify and address potential biases. By doing so, we can work towards a more equitable educational system that supports the success of all students.