It’s the time of year when our inboxes get flooded with requests to complete course evaluations. Ideally, these evaluations are used to assess which GSIs thoroughly know the course material and can teach it to a classroom. However, students know that there are many factors that can bias the final scores, none of which are stronger than the candy bias.
“I spent a long time trying to understand the lecture slides and readings so that I could be prepared to help my students with any questions, but I always got good-not-great results,” explained a GSI who has seen a recent uptick in his evaluation scores.
When asked what marked his improved feedback, he replied, “I just spent a little less time doing the readings and a little more time ordering ice cream cakes.” Other GSIs have also noted students’ preference for sweets over well-answered questions.
“If there’s ever a question I can’t answer, I just offer some taffy to anyone who can,” disclosed another GSI. “There’s usually someone in the room who knows the answer and wants a Laffy Taffy.”
Some praise the strategy as a way to boost both evaluation scores and participation in the classroom. Many students are just a fun-size Milky Way bar away from raising their hand, but GSI purists condemn the act, calling it “unfair and unhealthy.”
“I pride myself on being as knowledgeable as possible for my students, and now I’m getting worse scores than [NAME REDACTED] because she brings her class juice boxes every other week,” complained a GSI who leaves fructose out of the classroom. “The juicing has to stop. I want this to be a clean craft, and right now it’s being made dirty, not to mention the health risks. There’s definitely a divide in the GSI world between those who use fructose and those who don’t.”
While purists believe they have morals on their side, the use of fructose is becoming more and more rampant. Evaluation scores will continue to inflate, and those who choose to run a clean classroom are quickly being left behind.
Candy isn’t the only tool being used to slant evaluations. GSIs have reported the use of “pets, cool pop culture references and multicolored pens” to woo their students. This has left many GSIs calling for reform in the profession.
“The art of being a GSI is dying,” insisted the purist. “All we want is a level playing field and a way to keep the craft clean.”
With no formal system in place to prevent GSIs from using fructose in the classroom, it seems the juicing era of GSI-ing has begun.
Contact Ryan Melvin at [email protected].