Course Evaluations are in, and they aren’t what I expected…

Each day, we encounter feedback: a low fuel light, a lipid panel result, “likes” on a social media post.  Each semester’s close brings another form of feedback in formal evaluations. Seeking feedback about teaching requires an inherent vulnerability; after all, instructors spend months personally investing in careful planning surrounding the intellectual growth, and often well-being, of students. In the words of Sigmund Freud, “Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.” 

Ideally, evaluative feedback is specific and actionable. While perhaps difficult to read, even comments such as students struggled to follow the organization of the course…or that assessment questions didn’t seem to match instruction at least allows for focused reflection and action. On the other hand, vague lamentations such as “too hard” or “don’t like the way we’re graded” may leave professors frustrated with a lack of ability to drill down more deeply and ask clarifying questions.

How CTL can help

What if areas of instructional improvement arise out student feedback or self- identified need? We recommend building in feedback loops throughout a course so that the end of course evaluation is not the only or most significant event in seeking student feedback. CTL IDs can help you:

  • Find a quick feedback tool- with or without technology- that can help you get a snapshot of students’ learning (often in 5 minutes or less!)
  • Help you to identify patterns or themes in evaluative comments in a supportive enviroment
  • Help you to schedule an OLA session so that you can address potential course issues before the end of the semester
  • By offering an, empathetic ear. Part of our job is to support faculty through understanding your instructional concern or “wish list”. We can offer solutions and assist you as you try them out in an iterative process!

 

Just a thought

As professors, and specifically as UMPI professors, we put a premium on helping students value themselves–so let us not forget to value ourselves and the value we bring to the classroom everyday 🙂

Preparing for Course Evaluations

The resources linked below will allow you to do some pre-work to prep for course evaluations before the end of the semester.  The resource from Vanderbilt University about talking with students about the evaluation process offers some guidance on describing useful feedback to students so they can help you develop–and secondly, there is the OLA request form.

Talking with students about evaluationsRequest an OLA session