I am constantly working to improve my course design and my teaching methods. I do my best to keep up with the current trends in education and I hold myself to high standards. I work hard to provide the best learning experience that I can. Given that I am early in my teaching career, I know there is a lot of room for improvement. My classroom experience to this point is limited and I rely heavily on feedback from others. This feedback takes many forms.
Classroom visits. Every semester my supervisor visits my classroom. Unlike some people, I look forward to these evaluations. I truly value the opinion of someone with MUCH more experience than me.
Show me yours, I’ll show you mine. I also seek out feedback from my peers by comparing notes with other professors that teach the same courses that I do. This is particularly useful when trying to work out the logistics of a new technique or lesson plan. It also allows me to get an accurate assessment of the rigor of my courses.
Student outcomes. My primary goal is to guide each of my students to an acceptible level of mastery of the subject matter. I can use my exam grades, homework assignments, etc to assess how well my students understand the material. In an ideal world all of them would receive A’s because I’m just that good of a teacher. It doesn’t quite work out
that way. I truly want my students to learn. I’ve come to accept that not all of them have that same goal. I’ve stopped getting upset and emotional when the class doesn’t perform where I want them to.
Student evaluations. Every semester my students fill out the standardized course evaluations provided by the college. I don’t receive the results until well into the next semester. For the most part, these have been overwhelmingly positive and there is very little constructive feedback. In an attempt to gather more useful input in a
more timely fashion I put together my own anonomous online surveys with two simple questions:
“What are three things that you like about the class?”
“What aspects of the class would you like to see improved? (2 or 3 things)”
I use GoogleDrive to put together the surveys, I email a link to all of my students and the results are collected in a spreadsheet. Although not all of my students participate, the responses I do receive are incredibly useful. The criticism is more constructive and thorough than what I receive on the end of semester evaluations. This form of immediate, midstream feedback allows me to make minor adjustments in my courses that make a big difference in terms of student satisfaction. I think my students appreciate that I make an effort to listen to their needs.
What other forms of feedback do you rely on?