Language from the EvalReval report about the purposes of evaluation:

Anonymous evaluations are completed for the vast majority of courses at Vanderbilt.  These evaluations are then processed and prepared for three distinct audiences, each of whom reads them for a somewhat different purpose.  First, as Vanderbilt is a research university committed to excellent teaching, a most crucial component is the formative feedback that evaluations provide for teachers.  Such feedback can help improve courses and strengthen both the network of teachers and the community of teachers and students.  Second, with the decision to make components of the evaluations publically available to students (as of Fall 2012), evaluations now serve a role in helping students select courses.  This is one input, and its utility differs depending on majors, requirements, section availability, and scheduling; yet, if it can lead to deeper consideration in class selection, we believe that in coordination with strong advising and discussions with peers, it can be a useful one.  Further, in making the evaluations available to students, the university declares the importance of those evaluations and our trust and expectation that students will take them seriously and approach them thoughtfully.  Finally, beginning at the departmental level and across the university, administrators make use of evaluations, among other information, to assess renewals, promotions, and tenure. As an example, the standards for tenure declare that “Candidates for tenure must accept as career obligations the dissemination of knowledge and the nurturing of a spirit of inquiry. To qualify for tenure, candidates must demonstrate a high overall level of teaching effectiveness, with appropriate weight given to performance in each of the various forms of teaching that are important to the respective programs of their departments or schools” ( This goal is laudable, and our committee is committed to excellence in teaching here. We believe that the evaluations’ strongest prospect is to help guide—but not dictate to—teachers as they revise their courses and their approaches to teaching.