Our Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET) can be very helpful in providing feedback. However, these surveys are only administered at the end of the semester, much too late to assist the current students. Also specific feedback on assignments, organization or anything else often gets lost in the sands of time if the course is not one that you teach on a regular basis. So what is a Prof to do?
October brings with it pumpkins, a possible frost and Midterms. While students begin to sweat under pressure of tests, midterms are also a good time to take stock of your own progress. Creating a midterm evaluation for both you and your students is great way to make sure you are hitting your mark, plus it gives you enough time to tweak things if you need to. We find that students are much more candid when writing informal evaluations; they also appreciate your willingness to make accommodations.
Here are some ideas for evaluating your own teaching:
Keep a log, checklist, or list of goals for each lesson and at the end of class note whether you have met those stated goals. Self-monitoring requires self-judgment and the difficult part is to let go of your ego. Biases and misinterpretations of students’ reaction by the instructors themselves could interfere with objectivity of the evaluation. Even with these hurdles, there is great value in documenting your goals and getting in the routine of reflecting on achieving them.
Audio and Visual Recording
The camera may add ten pounds, but it also captures exactly what you said and how. It is much easier to monitor others and notice their fumbles and foibles but is much more difficult to monitor yourself, especially when you are devoting most of your attention to explaining content, helping students and keeping the class engaged. It might be a good idea to schedule recordings at the beginning middle and end of the semester to check your progress. The CTL can help you with this. We now have lecture capture availability or we can do a standard video taping.
You can create your own survey to hand out in class. A few simple questions go a long way. If you are web-enhanced, you can use ANGEL surveys and results can be sent anonymously. Another way is to use TurningPoint (our “Clicker” system) to take a quick poll. Don’t worry, results can be saved on TurningPoint and viewed later after class
Invite your colleagues to view your video, or sit in on your lecture. Or ask to sit in on another colleague’s lecture. What kind of assignments do they give, how do they explain the same topic? Ask them what kind of course evaluation questions do they give their students? Why reinvent the wheel?
How do you obtain informal feedback throughout the semester? Do you use any of the techniques above or do you use a different technique that works better for you?