It is hardly surprising that a variety of products and services are rated online – usually on a scale of 1 to 5, often with comments – as this feedback can be eyeopening. You may be surprised to learn, however, that many colleges and universities have been asking students to similarly evaluate courses and professors for decades now. Some universities make this information public, others do not. Because UCSB does not, I have taken it upon myself to post all of my evaluations to this site. There are thousands of them here, dating back to my first year at UCSB (2006). Why doesn’t UCSB publish these ratings? To be honest, I do not know. To be completely candid, I find it frustrating that they do not.
Click on the list to the left for a description of the course and to see student feedback. (If you are using a mobile device, scroll down below the FAQs for the list.)
Frequently Asked Questions
How are the ratings obtained? Each term, on the last day of class, UCSB students are asked to grade their instructors. Evaluation forms are passed out, the instructor leaves the room, and students are given the opportunity to rate the course and instructor.
Are all the ratings here in their entirety? Yes, the good, the bad, and the ungrammatical, they are all here. Each and every evaluation that I have received at UCSB is posted here (or will be soon), in its entirety. They have not been edited in any way.
Are the ratings anonymous? Yes, students do not put their names on the evaluations. Moreover, instructors are not given access to the evaluations until after they have posted all of the grades for the course.
How do these ratings compare with RateMyProfessor.com? RateMyProfessor.com and UCSB are attempting similar evaluations. UCSB asks students to “rate the overall quality of the instructor’s teaching”; RateMyProfessor.com evaluates the “overall quality” of a professor based on their clarity and helpfulness. Since both use a scale of 1-5, ratings should be somewhat comparable. However, because just a handful of students post ratings on RateMyProfessor.com – often only those that feel strongly about a course (either positively or negatively) – the results can potentially be skewed. In contrast, because every student in the class is asked by UCSB for their ratings and comments, the ESCI data provides a much larger, and potentially more accurate, sampling. As noted above, there are thousands of reviews here.
How do the comments work? After rating the instructor, students are given the opportunity to add “comments or to further explain your rating of the instructor and the course.”
How does the rating scale work? It is a five-point scale: (a) excellent, (b) very good, (c) good, (d) fair, and (e) poor. However, unlike nearly every other similar rating system in existence, at UCSB 1 is “excellent” and 5 is “poor.” To avoid confusion and bring this in line with the rest of the world, I have taken the liberty of inverting the scale, so that 5 is excellent. The 5s are listed first, followed by 4s, and so forth. The “Unrated” comments (see below) are last. Averages are rounded to the first decimal (i.e. 4.77 rounds to 4.8).
Who administers the ratings & what is “ESCI”? The rating system, which is officially known as ESCI (Evaluation System for Courses and Instruction), is administered by the UCSB Office of Instructional Development. Ratings are typically refered to as “ESCI scores” or “ESCI data.”
How long has UCSB been conducting the ratings? The UCSB Office of Instructional Development began the system in the 1970s. Which leads to the next obvious question…
Why doesn’t UCSB publish these ratings? I just don’t know. Other schools, such as Harvard University, have for decades made similar material, known as their Course Unit Evaluations (CUEs) available to students, who annually published the ratings and comments in their CUE Guide. In my opinion, UCSB needs to make this data public. This leads to the next question…
Are you permitted to make this information public? According to the Office of Instructional Development in 2019, “Faculty members own their individual ESCI data. ESCI data are collected as an aid to individual faculty members for use as summative feedback on their courses and instruction. As such, individual ESCI results are the property of the faculty member.” I interpret this to mean that, as my property, ESCI data is mine to do with as I see fit – including posting online.
Do all departments ask students for ratings? Yes, the ESCI program is university-wide at UCSB.
How were the handwritten comments posted online? Since the comments are all handwritten, it was necessary to have them first transcribed by a student before being posted online.
Why are some of the comments “Unrated”? I do not know for sure, but can venture a guess. Students are in fact given two evaluation forms. The first, from the UCSB Office of Instructional Development, is a computer-read form that only asks for ratings, not comments. The second, somewhat less formal sheet from the English Department, asks for the same ratings a second time, as well as for comments. I suspect that, after doing the ratings on the more official looking form, students simply forget to do the rating again, or believe it unnecessary a second time. Since we only have the comment on those forms, I note that they are “Unrated.”
Do “Unrated” comments factor into the course average? Maybe. The average score is based on ratings from the computer-read form (mentioned in the previous answer) from the Office of Instructional Development. Because, given the above logic, I suspect that many of the students who produced “Unrated” comments on the English Department form actually provided a rating on the form for the Office of Instructional Development, their rating may well factor into the course average.
Are students only asked to evaluate the instructor? Students are also asked to “rate the overall quality of the course, including its material or content, independent of the instructor’s teaching.” However, since averaging (or listing separately) the ratings from the two questions would likely be confusing, and answers to this second question can take into account factors like quality of textbooks and AV material, I have just posted the rating of the “instructor’s teaching.” However, feedback on this second question is included here, as students are asked to “further explain your rating of both the instructor and the course” in the comments (my emphasis).
Do you respond to the feedback? In fact, I do. Since the reviews are anonymous, I cannot respond to the student who made the comment, but I take the comments to heart and act upon them when creating and refining courses. For example, my Intro to Literature and the Environment course, which I have been teaching since the first term that I arrived at UCSB and which I have taught at least once a year on average ever since, has been much improved over the years by my responding to the feedback given to me by students. I – along with subsequent students that have taken the class – owe each of the students that provided feedback a debt of thanks, as it is in part a much better course because of them.
Why are the really old comments still up? While it is true that the comments from a 2006 course will likely be of limited use to a student deciding whether or not to take an upcoming class, I imagine that this material may prove interesting to students who actually took the class back in 2006. In other words, if you have taken one of these courses and should happen to find yourself nostalgically thinking back on it (perhaps long after leaving UCSB), feel free to read through the feedback to help remember what the course was like. Perhaps you will even be able to recognize your own comment.