Friday, February 14, 2014

Mid-Course Evaluations

Recently, I completed reviewing my mid-course student evaluations. 

I have found mid-course evaluations to be quite valuable.  As a student, I remember wishing we had mid-course evaluations so that my comments could be used to improve our class, rather than merely helping the professor improve the course for the next batch of students. 

The mid-course evaluation gives students a chance to voice concerns, anonymously, relatively early in the course.   While professors quickly learn that is likely impossible to please all of their students—some students love the exact same thing that other students hate—trends in mid-course evaluations can alert professors to potential issues and give time to make modifications before the end of the semester.   

Mid-course evaluations can also be used as a teaching tool—modeling the proper way to seek and evaluate advice.  The class period after I administer the mid-course evaluation, I take a few minutes to explain to the class what (if any) changes I plan to make on their advice and why I chose not to follow some of their advice (for example, even if a number of students dislike group work, I explain why we are going to continue with some group exercises).  The students may not agree with my reasonsing, but they seem to appreciate the explanations.    

The mid-course evaluations only take a total of about 10 minutes of class time (5 minutes for the students to fill out the sheets and 5 minutes to review in the next class).  I simply ask: What is working well? What is not working well? Other comments?  Every semester I get some students complaining about how difficult the course is and other “I don’t want to eat my vegetables” comments, but I also usually get some useful information. 

For those of you who don’t already do mid-course evaluations, I suggest giving it a try.

Haskell Murray, Teaching | Permalink


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