Instructors and administrators continue to debate the merit and value of using course evaluations to assess instructor effectiveness and course outcomes, especially when students see course evaluations as satisfaction surveys where they can unload negative and/or hurtful comments directed at instructors. Little is known about instructors’ perceptions of negative course evaluations. This study qualitatively examined faculty’s (N = 90) perceptions of negative course evaluation qualitative comments. Using a grounded analyst-constructed typologies approach, three types of negative course evaluation comments were identified: professional, personal, and performance. These types of negative comments call into question the disconnection between what students and instructors perceive as negative comments and how instructors and administrators should evaluate their performance in the classroom. The findings offer recommendations for how instructors and administrators can better navigate how to use negative comments in performance reviews.

Author ORCID Identifier

Heather J. Carmack: 0000-0002-5520-3951

Leah E. LeFebvre: 0000-0002-7307-2895