It’s that time of year that we love to hate. When the pomp and circumstance of commencement is finally over, we’ve submitted our final grades, and reveled once again in a job well done, we get an email that our eSETs are ready for viewing. If you’re like me, your immediate response is, “here it comes…” followed by the fleeting thought that “surely they’ll have glowing things to say about me and my course.”

Imposter syndrome is REAL and we’ve all experienced it. If you haven’t then you probably have some room for genuine self-reflection. In either case, however, the question always arises, “What do I do with negative student evaluations?”

In Hodges and Stanton’s article (2007), “Translating Comments on Student Evaluations into the Language of Learning,” they acknowledge that often times, student comments reflect the student’s perception of how interested we were in them personally. If we read deeper, however, comments may also reveal struggles faced by many novice learners. The authors encourage faculty to “use these insights as part of a scholarly approach to teaching, making meaningful adjustments to future classes and informing curricular choices in productive ways.”

Perhaps you have received comments like these: Continue reading

My post today is about a cool article I read on a low-stakes type of writing assignment that I think could be wildly helpful to my students. Julie Empric calls this assignment, “Afterthoughts.” In short, Afterthoughts eliminate the brain dump that often occurs at precisely the time when students exit the classroom. Instead, students are asked to interact with the material in ways they may not have previously. I think this technique, described below, is very much in line with the Cognitively Active (deep learning) study approaches that I presented last week.

In short, the Afterthoughts assignment has students write about what happened in the class session. From this template, the Afterthought should:

  1. follow-up on an important point covered in class,
  2. raise questions about what was discussed in class,
  3. link ideas presented in several different class sessions,
  4. correct, adjust, or extend an Afterthought someone else presented in class, or
  5. connect course content with something on TV, a film, the Internet, in a book, with content from another course, or with something the student experienced. Continue reading

Last week I posted on strategies we can use to improve online teaching evaluation return rates. This article, however, makes a very important point;

“The usual design of [teaching evaluations] gives students the opportunity [to] focus on the shortcomings of the course and the instructor, without any acknowledgement of their own role in the learning process.”

Reciprocal evaluation seeks to force students to make the connection between their learning and their own contributions to their learning process. I love this! The OSU-Cascades Learning Lab initiated an effort to engage students in our math and science courses in this thinking with the use of the Learning Strategies Inventory (attached). This particular inventory gets students thinking about the connection between their own study strategies and their course grade. (We will share the results from this effort at the end of the year). Continue reading

Starting about 20 years ago, universities began transitioning their teaching evaluations from paper to an online format (clearly OSU took MUCH longer to make the change)! While efficiency and the number of qualitative comments may have improved, response rates have taken a nose-dive. Hopefully you have taken the Deans’ recent suggestion to administer some type of written mid-term teaching evaluation in your classes. If not, then the advice in this post is even more important for you.

Let’s step back a second. Why are response rates so low? Is it because students believe their feedback doesn’t matter? Or are they “feedback-fatigued”? Why SHOULD students want to complete teaching evaluations?

Students should be completing teaching evals because (hint: share these reasons with your students):

  1. Doing so can help them understand how they learn best.
  2. The quality of instruction matters.
  3. They want to help those who follow them in the next class to have an even better experience. This works really well if you share what you have changed in your class as a result of student feedback. Continue reading