Yesterday in class my students filled out one of those stereo-typical bubble sheet evaluations that supposed to tell me (and the administration) something meaningful about my teaching abilities. I won’t see those results until after grades are turned in, but that’s OK with me because I didn’t find the questions asked on the standard form particularly useful.
Plus, I gave my own evaluation a few weeks ago and those results are already in.
So how’s my teaching going?
- 31% of students said that my general performance was excellent, 47% of students said it was good, 19% said it was acceptable, and only 3% said it was poor.
For a first-semester faculty member teaching an introductory course, I’m not sure I could ask for any better statistics than that.
- 47% of students said my exams and quizzes were fair but extremely difficult, 25% said they were fair but difficult, and only 22% said they were reasonable.
I tried to make subsequent exams easier on them and average scores went up. The biggest change is that I gave my first midterm on-line and made it open book. The second midterm was in class, closed book. I think the students underestimated how difficult open book exams can be, and I over-estimated what they could handle. I think we’re getting to a happier medium, but in the long run I’m shooting for something approaching difficult (from the reasonable side.)
- 53% of my students said the assignments were helpful and reasonable, 16% said they were helpful and easy, and 19% said they were helpful but difficult. 15% said they were useless and easy/reasonable.
I view the assignments as a chance for students to work with the material in a more active way (by writing, analyzing, etc.) In contrast to my philosophy on exams, I’ve tried to write the assignments for this class so that anyone who can follow explicit directions (and write grammatically-correct sentences) can get perfect or near-perfect scores. For some people, that is apparently difficult, and for others it is useless. What can I do? (shrugs shoulders) That said, the quality of the work has improved substantially over the course of the term.
- 56% of students said that my lectures have about the right amount of detail, relative to the amount of time we have in class and the material on the exam. 19% said they had too little detail, 16% said they had too much detail, and 9% said they had no relation to material on the exams.
Since I write my exams straight from the lecture notes, I wish I had more satisfied customers in this department. I think part of the problem may have been that hard first exam.
- 69% of students said lectures are well organized, but move too fast. 25% said “Lectures are well organized, easy to follow and move at the right speed”
I’m not quite sure how to jibe this with the previous result. I suppose I could break down the statistics and see whether the students were consistent in their assessment of my lectures. Some of the feeling of things “moving too fast” may be the harsh reality of an introductory college science class that is striving to be broad rather than deep. As the semester has gone on I’ve started more liberally cutting material compared to the book so that I could focus on the stuff I think is really important, and if/when I teach this class again, I’ll probably do more of that. But anytime the powers that be proscribe 17 chapters in 15 weeks, there’s going to be a lot of material.
- 91% of students said that when they contacted me I am responsive and reasonable and 91% said that I am accessible through the combination office hours, email, and blackboard
Finally, some numbers I can get behind and not parse out. They are pretty uniformly happy with access to me.
It’s interesting to look at these numbers now, a few weeks after I collected the data. I wonder if I had the chance to do the evaluation again how different things would look. I’d try, but I don’t think I’d get much response, given that they’ve just done the bubble sheets and mine was an on-line volunteer thing. I certainly found the data useful in the middle of the semester. They helped me see where the students were most dissatisfied (the exams) and where I was doing well (lecture organization). I think I would definitely do a mid-semester evaluation again, particularly if I can figure out a way to also collect an end-of-semester sample of the same questions. Sort of a pre-test/post-test of my teaching.
If you are an instructor, do you do a mid-term evaluation? What sorts of questions do you ask? How do you use the results?