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Mid Term Evaluations – Checking in with students

Mid Term Evaluations – Checking in with students

Part II of Teaching Circles Discussion Review

As I finished up my post on student failure, I remembered that amidst all of our discussion on attendance, setting expectations, letting students fail, and more, I forgot to talk about mid-term evaluations. Yes, we fit this in! In fact, we started our conversation talking about conducting mid-term evaluations in order to gauge where students were, whether they felt they were learning, and what suggestions they had for improving their learning. For those of you who have never performed a mid-term evaluation, it’s worth looking at why we do these and how they help us continually enhance our teaching and “check in” with our students’ learning.

Mid-term evaluations give us a chance to adjust our courses based on feedback from students on what’s working and what could be changed to help students learn – changing horses mid-stream, if you like backwardly applied metaphors. Coincidentally, one of my favorite teaching and learning blogs (ProfHacker, sponsored by the Chronicle of Higher Education) had a post about mid-term evals, as well as a promotion through a really excellent higher ed forum, POD. See below.

For those of you considering mid term evaluations, this is an excellent list of resources, combined with an idea of how to conduct evaluations collaboratively with your students, that is, invest them in the process.

We also offer this service to Montclair State faculty through the Research Academy, called SGA’s. Go here to learn more: http://www.montclair.edu/academy/services/sga.html

Conducting Your Midterm Evaluations Publicly with Google Docs

http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/make-your-midterm-evaluations-public-with-google-docs/38680

Croxall uses GoogleDocs to have students collaboratively do a midterm evaluation answering two questions: “What is working well so far?” and “What could be done better?”

The post links to other ProfHacker entries on the same topic.

List of Evaluation Resources From POD:

  • Anderson, Joan, Gary Brown, and Stephen Spaeth.  “Online Student Evaluations and Response Rates Reconsidered.”  Innovate 2, no. 6 (2006). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=301 (accessed January 8, 2011).
  • Brinko, Kathleen T.  “The Interactions of Teaching Improvement.”  In Practically Speaking: A Sourcebook for Instructional Consultants in Higher Education, 3-8.  Edited by Kathleen T. Brinko and Robert J. Menges.  Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press, 1997.
  • Coffman, Sara Jane.  “Small Group Instructional Evaluation Across the Disciplines.”  College Teaching 46, no. 3 (1998): 106-111.
  • Creed, Tom.  “Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID).”  The National Teaching & Learning Forum 6, no. 4 (1997). http://www.ntlf.com/html/pi/9705/sgid.htm (accessed December 12, 2010).
  • Diamond, Miriam R.  “The Usefulness of Structured Mid-Term Feedback as a Catalyst for Change in Higher Education Classes.”  Active Learning in Higher Education 5, no. 3 (2004): 217-231.
  • Diamond, Nancy A. “Small Group Instructional Diagnosis: Tapping Student Perceptions of Teaching.”  In A Guide to Faculty Development: Practical Advice, Examples, and Resource, 82-91.  Edited by Kay Herr Gillespie, Linda R. Hilsen, and Emily C. Wadsworth.  Boston: Anker Press, 2002.
  • Lewis, Karron G.  “The Process of Individual Consultation.” In A Guide to Faculty Development: Practical Advice, Examples, and Resources, 59-73.  Edited by Kay Herr-Gillespie, Linda R. Hilsen, and Emily C. Wadsworth.  Boston: Anker Press. 2002.  59-73.
  • Penny, Angela R., and Robert Coe.  “Effectiveness of Consultation on Student Ratings Feedback: A Meta-Analysis.”  Review of Educational Research 74, no. 2 (2004): 215-253.
  • Seldin, Peter.  “Using Student Feedback to Improve Teaching.”  To Improve the Academy 16 (1997): 335-346.
  • Smuts, Bridget.  “Using Class Interviews to Evaluate Teaching and Courses in Higher Education.”  South African Journal of Higher Education 19, no. 5 (2005): 943-955.
  • Theall, Michael.  “Student Ratings: Myths vs. Research Evidence.”  Focus on Faculty 10, no. 3 (2002): 2-3.  http://studentratings.byu.edu/info/faculty/myths.asp (accessed December 12 2010).
  • White, Ken.  “Mid-Course Adjustments: Using Small Group Instructional Diagnoses To Improve Teaching and Learning.”  In Assessment in and of Collaborative Learning.  Edited by The Washington Center’s EvaluationCommittee, Evergreen State University. http://www.evergreen.edu/washcenter/resources/acl/c4.html (accessed December 12, 2010).

Cool.

Please also check out this comment with even more resources (visit the original post here: http://ltlatnd.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/a-daily-dose-of-digital-creativity/):

March 6, 2012 5:02 pm

Chris,

Thanks for the awesome write-up of ds106 here, it is a really fun class. Tim Owens deserves full credit for making the Daily Create site a reality, and it is all done with freely available WordPress plugins, you can see the details here

Also, Martha Burtis’s work with the ds106 assignment repository is amazing. It’s a space where students submit assignments and other people in the class can do them. Take for example the fat Cat visual assignment which a student at UMW submitted and people all over the world completed, pretty crazy:
http://assignments.ds106.us/assignments/fat-cats-make-art-better/

One thing you might notice is not only the list of 23 people who did that particular assignment, but also the 3 or 4 tutorials people submitted to help others complete it. What happens with ds106 is the students not only help build not the community of the class, but the class itself. It is like building an airplane while flying in it!

Nom-Noms for Professor Cats

http://chronicle.com/blognetwork/researchcentered/2011/09/23/advanced-faculty-wrangling-techniques/

This hilarious article reveals the difficulty in getting butts in seats. Or cats in kitchens?

Teaching Communities and Failing Students

Student Failure: The New Old Way of Teaching

Last week at our first Teaching Circle meeting of the semester, we focused on student expectations and failure. There are many sub-categories that fit these inter-connected topics: grading, attendance/absenteeism, why students don’t try harder, school policy versus individual instructor policy, why students resist change/innovation, and much more. We talked for nearly two hours about these central issues, and how they might be addressed in the classroom.

The biggest issue, and one coming under increasing public scrutiny, is student failure. This is a landmine issue for teachers, because, while we want to set high standards and clear expectations for our students, we also don’t want them to fail and some of us even dread the fallout emotional battle that comes with student failure. John Rosemond would say that we are experiencing the products of the “psychological parenting revolution” (which bled into our teaching methods) of the 1970’s and 80’s. This makes us afraid of hurting the feelings of our students, and by extension, afraid to let them fail. For related articles, read the below:

Are We Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Mickey-goodman/are-we-raising-a-generati_b_1249706.html

Teaching Students to Fail Better: http://www.iste.org/learn/publications/learning-and-leading/issues/Feature_Teach_Your_Students_to_Fail_Better.aspx

Tales of Spectacular Failure: http://www.npr.org/2012/03/06/146880518/try-and-try-again-3-tales-of-spectacular-failure?sc=tw

Married to this idea of failure are grading policies and student absenteeism/attendance policies. Nostalgically we discussed our undergrad and graduate days, when attendance was not a requirement or only loosely monitored. Back then, if we wanted a good grade we had to make it to class, make sure we had the notes, or meet with our professor to get/turn in assignments, which were always set ahead of time by the syllabus. That is, our success or failure was totally in our hands. Now, student attendance has become connected with performance: just by showing up, to some instructors (and certainly in the minds of many students) counts as “effort.” Should we grade participation? In addition, the focus on engagement and group work requires that students be present to actually engage. Or does it? How might we engage students in and out of the classroom? Finally, university policies have changed such that they are more and more requiring that attendance be mandatory and that instructors revise their individual policies to reflect university mandates on attendance.

So we have many dynamics at play here: effort, attendance, student failure, and the various methods of considering all these factors when planning our courses. This, in addition to considering how we foster a creative, active, and engaging learning environment and address these, among myriad other, teaching and learning issues. Phew. Enough for you?

We turned our discussion to requiring attendance versus engaging students. Several instructors offered their personal policies on attendance: some don’t even take attendance and give it no reward or punishment, some have very strict attendance policies, some use a middle ground of points, percentages, and grade scales tied to attendance and participation. There is no perfect way, though we discussed how we might create a learning environment that students want to be part of, are compelled (intrinsically) to be there and thus help us put less emphasis on attendance and more on engagement. None of us wants to be the attendance police and spend class time checking off a list of names. We want our students to be there because they realize they need to know what we have to teach them. But we are frustrated and timid about not setting a specific policy for students to follow (what happens if they aren’t compelled to show up? Few of us have the confidence in ourselves and our students to be so hands-off concerning attendance).

There is no one way of doing this, but one professor talked about tying in-class assignments and scaffolding foundational content and concepts with performance expectations. He sets up assignments so that a student cannot move on to the next level without completing the prior level, and to do that, they must come to class. He gives them the defined milestones and a calendar to achieve them, assignments that move them through these levels of knowledge, assessed by conceptual tests, essays, and final projects. Though in some cases a student may try to “catch up” near the end of a unit and thus rush through material, in general he finds that students move through the material in concert and with enthusiasm. I speculated that in some cases it is the relationship with the instructor (trust, respect) that allows for looser “policies”; what works for one instructor may not work for another without building trust and respect.
We spent some time discussing innovation, ways we try to implement new scholarship on teaching practice and student learning, and of course, technology that can help us do that. We acknowledged that ofttimes students display a distrust of, and at times outright dislike, new ways of learning. This may be because they are used to performing and succeeding in a defined way – the lecture, taking Powerpoint notes, working in groups to complete a project – and when we ask them to think or learn in new ways, they are skeptical or resistant. I think this may be, as most teaching methods are and as I noted above, because of their trust in their instructor; we all know instructors that experiment all the time in their courses and are enthusiastically engaging their students, so why can’t we? So we segued to building trust in students: demonstrating that we know what we’re doing, setting expectations to that emphasize that it is okay to try something and have it bomb (even us teachers have failures!), that ultimately, we all want to continue learning. We talked about building in small successes and achievements that lead to bigger successes and investment of the student in reaching those goals. Ultimately, we were intrigued by the idea that we let our students experience failure in order to give success a more genuine sense of achievement on their part.

Want to be more creative? Be alone.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/opinion/sunday/the-rise-of-the-new-groupthink.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

Some of the most innovative and life-changing ideas have come from some serious alone time.

Stephen Heppell at the The Schools Network Learning Technologies Conference

“What on earth do we mean by creativity? …I think the word ingenuity is little closer to what we’re looking for…” Great insights into technology and innovation and what we bring to students.

teaching and learning with technology

Late last year I blogged about a short session I attended with Stephen Heppell on technologies in learning, which I enjoyed a lot. So, I was pleased to find a video of Heppell presenting much the same presentation I saw. So, I embed it here for your viewing pleasure. Some interesting points relating to ‘bring your own technology’ around the 19 minute mark and also on classroom design from a student perspective beginning around the 21 minute mark.

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