Thursday, June 24, 2010

What My Teaching Evaluations Tell Me

My teaching evaluations from Spring 2010 show scores lower than Spring 2009. My initial reaction was hurt, but then I read the comments from the students. "She followed the book too closely." "She did too many examples in class." "Her class was too easy."

What!? Keep in mind these are Ivy League students, I speculate here that they have different expectations for their classes than what I am used to. But then, I also think that the students learn differently now than 10 years ago (to be discussed in future post).

At the midterm, I asked students to write down how they would like to improve the class. The overwhelming majority requested more examples. So I gave them more examples. Now, I'm getting dinged for it on my evaluations!! I am at a loss here.

And the class was too easy? But on the 2nd and 3rd exam, the class average was low low low! So perplexed.


Genomic Repairman said...

You can't please all the people all the time. As long as they are not tanking you with comments like, "Worst teacher ever! 4 Reelz! Holla," then you are fine.

JaneB said...

If some say it was too easy and some say it was too hard, you're in about the right place. If the balance of opinion is all in one direction, it might be worth tweaking things.

My other comment would be, when changing something in response to student feedback (e.g. adding more examples), flag up what you are doing and why. Tell them 'the majority of people asked for more examples on our last feedback, so today I'm going to introduce three different examples of this phenomenon'. I've found that that can shift the comments - those who don't like the change at least understand why you're making it, and those who appreciate it might be prompted to actually say something about it in the reviews...

AmyR said...

I second JaneB's suggestion. I do mid-term evaluations and often implement suggestions that seem reasonable. The students really appreciate my reviewing the results of those evaluations and explaining why I do or do not implement their suggestions. Even if I didn't implement a student's particular suggestion, they seem to value just being heard. And that appreciation did show up in my "official" end-of-term evals.