What to do when your employer gives you a bad evaluation (WaterlooWorks)

For uWaterloo co-op students, at the end of your work term you get a work term evaluation. You get graded on certain characteristics, as well as receive a final overall evaluation with the following possible grades:

[UNSATISFACTORY, MARGINAL, SATISFACTORY, GOOD, VERY GOOD, EXCELLENT, OUTSTANDING]

This seems like a decent scale, but a problem arises when your employer takes the scale literally and doesn’t know about how inflated these evaluations typically are. The vast majority of students get a score of Excellent or Outstanding. Anything below that could be considered a red flag!

Here’s how you showcase proof of rating inflation and help argue for a better evaluation:

  • Show your supervisor this pdf (the SYDE 2018 class profile), page 14
    • “91% of students were consistently rated as Outstanding or Excellent, suggesting rating inflation”
  • Show your supervisor this pdf (the SYDE 2017 class profile), page 17
    • Shows the same thing as above but in a different graduating class, and with a nicer chart to illustrate this claim
  • There’s also the SYDE 2019 class profile here (page 32), and the SE 2020 class profile here (page 46) which illustrate the same points with nice graphs.
  • [Edit (11/22/2020)] Seiji S. commented on my linkedin post and provided two studies that are more comprehensive than the class profiles I linked above:
    • this study analyzes over 36,000 evaluations in 1,817 cities. The graph on page 231 shows that ~10% or less of evaluations are below “Very Good”
    • this other study analyzes over 11,000 engineering students during the period of 2013-2017. It showed that “Over 90% of students receive ratings in the range 5–7” (5 being very good, 7 being outstanding)
  • [Edit (02/13/2021)] UWaterloo’s own website states that 95% of co-op students receive Very Good or better

Remember to be respectful while bringing this up! Having stats that back up your position doesn’t mean you should be smug or hard to talk to!

Let me know if this post helped you argue for a better evaluation!