The role of narrative evaluations

"The danger with grades is that they desensitize one's self-awareness. There is nothing wrong with setting a standard if you are conscious that it is someone else's standard and you understand why you are working to meet its level. Personally, 1 work best when I have helped decide the goals I want to achieve. No is going to push me more than I push myself." - Claudia McCabe, JC class of 2002

Narrative evaluations are a description and assessment of your learning in a given course. Written by your professor at the end of the semester, an evaluation tells what you did and how well you did it, and often gives suggestions for improvement; it typically comments on the quality of your participation and interest in the class, the strengths and weaknesses of papers you wrote or presentations you gave, and your performance on examinations.

The professor's assessment is in good part based on your own evaluation of your performance, thus s/he assesses how well you have met the terms of your contract. Most professors also base their evaluations on your self evaluation; if you neglect to turn it in before the end of the semester, you forfeit an opportunity to speak on your own behalf. Many professors will not write an evaluation until you write and submit your se1fevaluation, in any case.

In the majority of your classes, you'll have the choice of requesting a contract and evaluation. If you do not want to take a majority of your classes for evaluation, Johnston is not a good choice for you. However, there are some courses that just do not lend themselves very well to written evaluations; specific skill courses, foreign languages, for example, are often taken for grades. Large introductory courses, where the professors may have too many students to enable them to write evaluations, are typically taken for a grade as well. But many faculty are willing to write evaluations for you - some prefer it! When your professors have written your evaluations, they are typed and a copy sent to you. The original goes to the Registrar's Office and becomes a part of your permanent record. Sometimes faculty procrastinate in writing evaluations. If this is the case, a gentle reminder by you, followed by a more forceful reminder, usually does the trick. Your advisor, the Johnston Registrar, and the Johnston Director can also be helpful in reminding faculty of their obligations to you.