I got my numerical course evaluations today. They aren't too bad. The important questions: Overall quality of this course and Overall quality of the instruction were 4.37 and 4.47 respectively. This is on a five point scale. The college becomes concerned with a professor if those number fall below a 4 (which personally I think is an unreasonably high standard). So I guess I'm safe for another year.
I was a bit worried about this class because I ran it like a graduate level reading seminar. All discussion and one big paper, no exams or lectures. When I got the written evaluations about a month ago there were at least two people who complained they didn't learn anything because I didn't lecture and it was all discussion. So I worried that their ratings would give me bad numbers.
I've heard some professor argue that evaluations, either written or numerical are not helpful. I completely disagree. While I did receive a lot of contradictory information on my evals (some like discussion, some dislike, some like no lectures, some hated it, some like no tests, other wanted a variety of grades besides discussion grades, etc.), it did demonstrate to me that the class was probably conducted too differently from other courses on campus and in the department for students to rate the content separate from how it was presented. I'm sure if I had run it on T/Th and did about 10-15 minutes of lecture with the rest discussion, those who like the course still would have liked it and some of those who had problem with the course would have be mollified.