I have just reviewed the Course Experience Surveys (CES) for my courses. These are the evaluations and I am pleased with the numbers. I’ll need to ask the admin to see the written comments, which are usually fun to read. We all know that the students who really liked you or didn’t really like you are the ones to leave comments.
Particular to this last school year, I changed a few things and the numbers demonstrated an improvement. One question refers to the assignments and another to fairness with the grading. These two questions really allow the students to comment on the syllabus and the grading performance. Of course, part of this is that the students can blame the instructor for their mark in the class, but that is a different blog post.
The first thing that I’ll admit to is that by and large my CES or evaluations for my courses are normally good to great. But, like any educator focused on teaching and learning, I want to improve my statistics. My enrolments are strong in my courses and I usually have long waitlists for my courses, so I’m doing lots of things right. I won’t rest on my laurels and not try to work on things. And, I’m cognizant that I teach most of the gender courses and other controversial topics, so this influences the evaluations to some degree.
What did I do different you might wonder? I made special care to talk more about the assignments in class and dedicated more time to do so. I also increased the explanation time when reviewing the syllabus and the assignment. I joke with colleagues that some students need to hear the explanation three times in order for it to sink in and this might not really be a joke! I did this with all six classes this last year—from first year to seminar.
In some of my classes, I actually included a sample topic sentence outline from the previous term. In other classes, I shared a successful blog. I also shared information about assessment and continued to use my grading grid in the courses. The extra time and the examples made a positive difference with those two questions. Now, I need to think about what I want to work on for next year…