If you’re TCU faculty, let this serve as your umpteenth notice to remind your students to complete their eSPOTs.
Once the students complete the eSPOTs (or whatever version of course / teaching evaluation your campus uses), then what? Well, there’s the inevitable waiting until you get the results, of course. When the results do finally come your way, this piece about making sense of student comments may be helpful. In particular, it’s useful to think about how students define particular criteria. After all, for student feedback to be part of a meaningful process of pedagogical improvement, some sense of how students might have understood the survey questions is worth considering.
If you’d like to gather more robust information from your students, you might consider an additional evaluative exercise. ProfHacker suggests that you have your current students write a letter to your future students. The comments on that blog post are also valuable, including the discussion about sharing the findings with your future students. Alternately, you could craft an exercise that provided feedback about your teaching and helped your students gain awareness of their learning habits. Not sure how to do this? The link provides some sample questions to get you started.
Anonymity can be tricky to maintain with these additional exercises. To encourage participation, you might offer a small amount of extra credit (or credit toward a specific assignment) if a predetermined portion of the class completes the exercise. In an online class, you could use an anonymous online form. We’ve discussed some of the options for online anonymous teaching surveys in an earlier post. In a face-to-face class, you could also use the online option or you could have your students type responses that they turn in to you – but stress that they are to leave all identifying information off the papers.
Getting the feedback is great, and making reasonable changes is part of the ongoing craft. But what makes professors seem wonderfully responsive? When professors close the loop and report back to students how they are using student feedback. Ideally, you’ve already done this with mid-semester evaluations in your course. If not, all is not lost. Of course, the students making the end-of-course suggestions won’t usually benefit from changes you may make in your future courses. However, for your future students, the simple act of indicating that you’ve changed a reading, activity, assignment, or policy in response to student feedback communicates that you are approachable and invested in student learning.
Do you have other course evaluation tips or practices? Please share in the comments!