"Excellence is not a destination. It is a continuous journey that never ends."
— Brian Tracey
Fundamental to our success as faculty members is reflection on our teaching and the creation of a process for continuous improvement — including self-reflection and student and peer feedback.
Gathering Student Feedback
UNE requires end-of-the course student evaluations. However, these surveys provide few details or specifics concerning what next steps you could or should do. Moreover, at the point of receiving the aggregated student evaluations, any possibility to improve your teaching with that particular class is lost.
Due to these shortcomings, higher education literature recommends seeking out formative feedback from your students at mid-semester and even several times throughout the semester. Benefits of this formative process include allowing for “in-time” feedback based on specific questions that can provide helpful details on instructional nuts and bolts. For instance, at the end of a lecture, you could have them complete a classroom assessment technique called “Muddiest Point” asking students to take a few minutes to jot down what the most difficult or confusing part of the lecture was, then, you can target your teaching to focus on those points. The Angelo & Cross book (Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.(1993)) is a classic that can be checked out from the CETL Lending Library, and includes the Muddiest Point and other techniques to help you gather student feedback.
You can also develop a mid-semester survey with items based on areas that were not rated as high as others on your past end-of-the course evaluations, but here you could explore them in more detail. For instance, if organization was rated lower than you wanted, you could have statements like “the sequence of topics covered in this course build on one another,” and have your students mark strongly agree to strongly disagree. This item, along with others, can provide you with more detailed feedback that subsequently could be used to implement possible interventions. If you would like help developing such items, please stop by one of our CETL offices.
Finally, there are many empirically developed instruments that you could use:
Taking a moment to evaluate your course and your methods of delivery will allow you to discover the areas where small changes could make a difference in student outcomes and feedback.
Peer Observation Forms
The forms below are excellent tools with which to receive feedback from your peers.
Practicing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
As you create a method of continuous teaching improvement you may find this process lends itself to the development of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).
SoTL has emerged as a significant category of research in which faculty investigate a component of their teaching with the purpose to advance their own practice of teaching and subsequently, their students’ learning. At the same time, by disseminating their research findings, they advance teaching and learning in general.