Division of Academic Affairs
Required course evaluations are useful but not always helpful in revising courses. Maria offers three ideas for getting student feedback that are specific enough to help you improve your courses.
Welcome to Teaching and Learning Matters. I'm Dr. Maria Yon from the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The purpose of this episode is to give you three ideas for getting feedback from students about your course.
At the end of each semester we are usually required to have students complete the required course evaluations. While the results are useful, they may not provide feedback that is specific enough to be helpful in revising our courses. So, here are some ideas.
Essentially, you are trying to get the answer to three broad questions: What worked? What didn't work? What changes should be made? These methods are not time intensive for the students to complete or for you to analyze the results.
The first one I call Syllabus Review. Each student is given a clean copy of the course syllabus. First, review with the students the goals of the course and the activities and assignments of the semester. Then, have the students make comments directly on the syllabus that they will turn in to you.
Your directive to them might be open ended such as, "What would you like for me to know about this course?" or you might direct them to specifics such as course assignments, how assignments are weighted, the most useful assignment, or the clarity of the syllabus itself. You might also limit the number of comments they can make to perhaps three.
This second idea, Consensus Response, works well if you have a large class and need to limit the amount of data that you will receive. It's best done in a group of 3-4 students. You direct them with one or two questions such as: What is the most important thing you learned in the course? What in-class activity helped you learn the most?
What assignment helped you learn the most? What would you change about this course?
Students discuss the answer together for several minutes. They then come to a consensus response that will be submitted. It can be very powerful because it represents group thinking.
The third idea is called Letter to a Future Student. It is helpful to some students to have an audience in mind other than you. It becomes a more authentic task, especially if you tell them that their letter will be used on the first day of class next semester. The directive is for them to write a letter to students who will enroll in the course in the future. You may leave it open ended with the directive: Write a letter to a future student who will be taking the course: What would you like for them to know?" Or you can direct them to address certain points in the letter. Either way, this activity can be a very insightful one.
So, there are the three ideas. Choose the one that best fits your class. Use them as described or revise them to meet your needs. A couple of things to remember: When you assign these activities, help students understand that you are serious about good teaching and their learning. Therefore, you are always trying to improve the course and that their honest feedback is valuable. Finally, it is important that these responses are anonymous. So, no names on the responses they turn in.
I hope you find these ideas helpful for getting feedback about your course. Let me know if you have tried other methods that have given you good information.
Thanks for tuning in. And remember, teaching and learning matters.
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