These days it is very common to have some course evaluation towards the end of a course, in which students respond to standardized questions on a numerical scale (e.g. between 1 and 5) and can additionally give free-form comments.
Sometimes individual lecturers make student comments (and their responses) available to the cohort in which the survey was taken and the next cohort, to show that they are open to critique and how they respond to it.
I am, however, more interested in cases where there is a departmental/faculty/university-wide policy to consistently publish evaluation results for all of their courses (averages of numerical data only, or perhaps the free-form comments as well) to the current and future cohorts.
- Is it common for universities to have a policy of publishing student course evaluations?
- What are advantages and disadvantages of doing this?
- Has this been looked at in the educational literature?
I'm not familiar with and studies conducted on this. However, in my two universities (US and non-US), the department does not publish them online but rather discuss the average rating of individual courses as well as the average of all courses in the department meeting at the end of the semester. In addition, each professor gets to see the average of the courses s/he teaches and compares it with that of the average rating of the courses offered by the department and school (not sure how f the average rating of all the courses provides in the university and is available there).
An advantage can be in terms of knowing your performance compared the other courses! Which can be also a stressful disappointed if you get low ratings (disadvantage?!)
To be honest, I have seen many evaluations that discuss in detail how a professor is "bad", unfortunately nobody seems to tale actions especially if such a professor got tenured or brings in a lot of funding!