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Teaching and Learning Tip #43: What Are Faculty Saying About Course Evaluations?

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Tip #43: What Are Faculty Saying About Course Evaluations?

It’s course evaluation season! The time when students offer feedback on their learning experiences during your course(s). This is an opportunity to share with your students the importance of their feedback, as well as consider the value to you as an educator.

What some of your colleagues find valuable about Course Evaluations:

  • “I use student evaluations at the end of each semester as a tool for reflection. It’s helpful for me in determining whether the learning opportunities in my classes allow for optimal student engagement. Sometimes the student evaluations reflect what I already know, but other times they tell me something new. Last semester I modified one of my major course assignments based on student feedback. I wanted to provide opportunities for authentic student engagement. Student evaluation feedback gave me a better understanding of how the project was lacking.” - Libbi Miller, School of Education
  • “In addition to using student course evaluations to modify assessments and work to improve my communication on content, I've found them very valuable for the professional development plan (PDP) that is included in my Retention, Tenure, and Promotion (RTP) file. I summarize the constructive feedback, provide my reflection, and describe what I am doing/will do to address the student concerns.” - Amy Sprowles, Biology
  • There are a couple of key items in the Likert section that I look at, such as "amount of time per week I spent preparing for this course" and "activities/materials helped me better understand the course content" that I use to gauge if workload expectations are on target and that students are understanding the purpose of the materials and activities as building blocks. I honestly really only focus on these if it's a new course or I've made a big change.  I usually skim "the instructor..." questions to make sure I wasn't off my game, but there are usually few surprises here - these things if they're out of line are usually expressed during the course itself. Where I really spend my time is in the comments. There's always bound to be one or two comments along the line of "this class was a complete waste of time", as well as "loved this class", which I consider outliers. But the responses like "the activities really helped me understand the concepts", "instructions could have been more clear", or "some of the readings seemed a little off topic" are the ones that I really focus on. These let me know if students are connecting assignments to course goals, if an assignment needs to be re-tooled or a reading replaced, or if something in the structure of the course is causing an obstacle to learning.  I'm always glad that some students take the time to really offer constructive feedback, and when I remind them to do the evals, I always let them know that their comments are used to improve the course.” - Amy Rock, Geography

Resources

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