As my three or four regular readers know, I adore surveys — collecting and analyzing data is in my wheelhouse. So of course, I did a survey of my students at the end of Semester 1 to check on my teaching and tweak my classes for next semester. Above, I collated the responses from both my Statistics and Pre-Calculus classes to questions regarding myself as a teacher. Below are the responses from each class regarding how they feel about elements of their own class.
Obviously, overall I’m pretty chuffed with the results, and touched that the great majority of my students think I’m helpful, friendly and fair — not to mention funny! Of course, I will be trying to use the feedback here to improve portions of my classes which are not working as well. The unit projects in particular deserve my attention: activities whose intent is to engage students and encourage connections between the curriculum and the outside world should probably be among the more popular elements of the class, not the least liked.
At the start of this semester, I had a chat with each of my classes regarding the unit project feedback, and the prevailing opinion seemed to be that they were difficult and somewhat disconnected from the rest of the course material. My Stats classes, for example, found the process of finding their own data for their projects quite challenging. Obviously, going through that frustrating research process was part of the goals, so I won’t be dropping one of the learning objectives just because students complain a bit. However, I think I will do two things in regards to these projects: try to connect the lecture, homework and assessment material better with the projects, and create a better structure with checkpoints so that students don’t get stuck until the day before the project is due.
Along with the quantitative feedback, I added “Stop-Start-Continue” questions to ask what students thought I should stop doing, start doing, and continue doing in teaching the course. The feedback from these questions was also tremendously valuable, providing a mix of ideas I have been working on for a while (maintaining a balance of friendly atmosphere in the classroom with discipline) and new critiques. We had productive class discussions regarding this feedback last week as well, and I hope to show my students that I’m listening and adapting to their concerns.