The Five Questions

Apr 28th, 2009 | By | Category: Blogs, Opinions

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Jason McGill

Assistant Editor

I received an email of a draft memorandum, followed by the finalized text of the memorandum, from the shiny happy people at the Office of the Provost today about these iGrade surveys where we rate our instructors and courses.

The email made liberal use of the “Return” key in both versions and listed a fax number at the end.  Who faxes anymore?

One sentence, set off by three Returns on either side, read, “We are particularly interested in making sure that students [BLAH BLAH BLAH] have the opportunity to respond to the five questions.”

I’ve done plenty of these surveys, as I’m sure you have, but I had never heard them referred to as “the five questions” before.  For all I knew, they threw the questions together a couple of weeks before the survey.  But this makes it sound like these are the only five questions that matter.  As if there was a rigorous screening process that lasted for years, with technicians in lab coats shouting at each other over the use of the word “challenging” versus “stimulating.”

The five questions, like the three robotic laws of Issac Asimov, or the ten things I hate about you; a list of items that represents the combined efforts of the finest minds of the known universe.  Here they are.  Look on them, and despair:

The course as taught was intellectually challenging.

Overall, the instructor’s presentations were understandable.

The instructor was generally accessible to respond to students’ questions.

The instructor stimulated my interest in the subject.

Overall, I learned a great deal from this course.

Can you do better?  If someone asked you to create a list that would for all time be known as “The Five Questions,” what would you include?  Here is my humble offering:

Do I get the two sides with that?

Isn’t everyone here phony?

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

If the pig’s already dead, why do they cure it?

Who farted?

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