To turn office hours into learning opportunities for students, Margaret Walsh, sociology professor at Keene State College, offered seven strategies: teach, advise, collaborate, offer books, listen well, mentor, don’t ask for feedback on your course or department. The last strategy can “put students on the spot … in a difficult position.” You can access Walsh’s article here: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/how-to-make-the-most-of-your-office-hours/.
Archive for June, 2012
In a 2009 issue of The Teaching Professor, Maryellen Weimer summarized McGowan’s and Graham’s research on changes faculty made to their teaching in response to their end-of-course ratings (McGowan, W. R., & Graham, C. R. (2009). Factors contributing to improved teaching performance. Innovative Higher Education, 34, 161-171.). Faculty attributed an increase in ratings to the following changes in teaching: more active learning pedagogy, better teacher-student interactions (knowing students’ names, for example), clearer learning outcomes, better preparation for class, and revisions to the evaluation policies and procedures that are used to assess student work. Perhaps making one change a semester would eventually build toward improved student ratings of teaching. It may be overly challenging to make many changes at once. Besides, there are anecdotes that specific changes in pedagogy (more student interaction, for example) lead to lower student ratings!
Besides student feedback on your teaching, institutions might also rely on peer feedback for your annual evaluation. Before your colleague observes your teaching, consider the following advice from David Perlmutter. You can access his entire Chronicle article here: http://chronicle.com/article/Pleasing-the-Peers/129885/. Don’t try something new. Stay on message. Don’t get fancy or quirky. Rehearse, but not too much. Build in a mix of lesson and interaction. Don’t coach the students. Don’t get rattled. Teach for the students, not the evaluators.
Troubled by your students’ evaluations of your teaching? There is a lot of advice out there on how to read them and respond to yourself, and possibly others. Check out David Perlmutter’s advice: http://chronicle.com/article/How-to-Read-a-Student/129553/. Keep in mind that each institution has its own ways of gathering and responding to feedback from students on teaching and courses. Checking on policies and procedures at your own institution will help you put ratings and comments into perspective.