CATs Should Be Taken At Both Midterms and Finals

In the wake of such an unprecedented and chaotic time, our educators deserve nothing but praise for continuing to provide a valuable learning environment and some sense of stability. The transition to online learning systems has not been easy; it has left teachers to adapt to new and complicated technology. The in-person teaching experience provides so many important aspects of a learning environment that Zoom cannot possibly replicate. 

Educators and students must both learn to make the most out of virtual learning, and to help eliminate some concern, hopefully this year we will be able to implement  midterm CATS, Villanova’s required Course and Teacher Survey. 

Typically, these evaluations come at the end of the semester, asking students to answer a series of questions regarding the quality of different aspects of the course and instructor. Faculty often ask students to provide detailed feedback to better improve the learning experience for students that come after them. However, in the midst of a rapidly changing learning environment, taking these evaluations in the middle of a course may be more valuable for students.

Villanova should encourage, if not require, faculty to send out a midterm evaluation to students to better improve their experience of an in-person or online class, especially because of this semester. If a certain style of virtual teaching does not work for a student, there is no way to anonymously inform the instructor of this until the class is over. While it is up to the student to make the most of their own experience, it is often an uncomfortable topic that will probably never be discussed unless under anonymity. 

These evaluations may mean a huge difference to a student if an instructor actually utilizes the feedback and adjusts teaching methods accordingly. Whereas with a simple end-of-semester evaluation, the feedback only applies to future students. Revising the usual CATS to a survey specifically targeting current students (knowing it will be taken during the middle of the semester) will provide even better analysis that could be influential and beneficial to current students. 

A simple five minute survey could change the course of a semester for both faculty and students, as the results could enact positive modifications to an unprecedented semester. If our motto at Villanova is “Ignite Change,” why should we wait to do so until the end of a semester?