Signs Of Life For Faltering PEPS Site

Students registering for classes earlier this month encountered an untimely technical failure: the Professor Evaluation Profile System (PEPs) was shut down for the entirety of the registration process. The rating system, launched over a decade ago by the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC), was designed to give students both a quantitative and qualitative rating for each professor. For course registrations for the fall 2015 semester, however, students could not rely on PEPs.

“It was just hitting a lot of issues, inconveniently I would say, at the time when everyone was looking for course registration, but it’s fully up and running now and I’ve been checking basically every other day and I haven’t experienced any issues since, so it should be good to go,” said Matthew Walsh, a UGBC senator and A&S ’16. Walsh is a member of the Academic Affairs Committee, which is responsible for overseeing PEPs.

PEPs categorizes professors based on each class they have taught, and shows the students’ opinions on how difficult the class was, the amount of work to be expected, the knowledge of the professor, and how interesting the class is. Each ranking is compared to the average in the department. PEPs also allows students to submit their own qualitative opinion of the class so that students who are considering the professor will know what kind of experience they are likely to have.

Walsh said that the biggest advantage of PEPs over the University-administered evaluations that students fill out at the end of each semester is the qualitative aspect. The reason the University doesn’t allow for written evaluations to be published on the Agora portal, he said, is that they are worried about students slandering professors—which is why there is administrative oversight on the PEPs forms before they are published.

Students can view the quantitative portion of the University course evaluations on the portal, but Walsh said that while it is a reliable system, there are issues such as the inaccuracy of the rating scales that make it less appealing than PEPs.

PEPs was hitting issues around the time of course registration because there were technical issues moving the UGBC web system OrgSync to new servers—a transition all BC websites are undergoing, Walsh said. He added that there will need be a greater level of communication between the Office of Student Involvement (OSI), who oversees the updates, and the server team, which is responsible for the technical patches, if PEPs is to continue to run smoothly.

“Right now, I’m just overseeing any bugs, and my job is if I see anything I’ll contact Dr. Miceli [associate director of Student Engagement in OSI] who will then contact the server team to fully update PEPs,” Walsh said.

Going forward, UGBC hopes to make PEPs more user friendly.

Currently, the two-digit codes that PEPs uses are outdated, which Walsh said has been addressed over the past Winter Break.

A new spreadsheet has been made with the current codes the University uses, and PEPs will be updated over the summer.
Walsh also said that the Academic Affairs committee is going to implement an active and inactive list to further organize the number of professors in the system.

“PEPs is up and good,” Walsh said. “Students should use it now as much as possible and contribute their own evaluations, and there’s [sic] going to be improvements over the summer.”

Featured Image courtesy of PEPs

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Gus was the Assistant News Editor for The Heights in 2015. He has since moved to the business side as the Collections Manager and plans to make The Heights lots of money. You can follow him on Twitter @gusmerrell.