While you are teaching a course or, perhaps more often, as a course wraps up, you have thoughts about how you might change or improve your course for the next offering. What would be most effective? Do you change the discussions? The project? The iDocs staff is always happy to listen to and work through your ideas with you.
When we prepare for a revision or for minor updates in a new semester, the first place we go to are the course evaluations.
The final course evaluation asks four open-ended questions: What aspects of the course content were helpful and what suggestions do you have for it? What aspects of the instructor’s approach were helpful and what suggestions do you have for him/her?
Not every student answers these questions, and not all those who do offer great insights. But, the comments can identify common areas for improvement. And every now and then, students offer thoughtful, specific, and useful suggestions.
So, how can you get more insights from your students? Encourage them all to complete the course evaluations! During the course, you’ve gotten to know your students. A simple announcement asking them to complete the course evaluation when they receive the link and explaining how you use the feedback can make a big difference in response rates. A word of caution: you’ll want to word your request so that it is not seen as trying to influence or manipulate the results. You simply want feedback – good and bad.
Jessica Franson handled it this way with her IS 240 students:
“During the last week of class, I posted an announcement reminding students that I value their feedback on the course evaluations as much as I hope they value my feedback on their assignments. I kept the message short to minimize any bias on the results and focused on simply informing them that their feedback is important for improving the design of the course as well as for improving my teaching style.”
Students receive an email message with a link to the course evaluation on the Monday of the last week of class, with two reminders during the week.