Course Evaluations and Reflection

The reason we teach is to pass on our knowledge and love of our content to our students.  Because student learning is the goal, we want to know whether the teaching we have done supports student learning.  Whether you want to analyze your course evaluation data, use a variety of tools to evaluate your course design, or think of ways to evaluate your course delivery, we have tools to help.

Course Evaluations

Finding out what students thought about the course is an important avenue for instructors to get feedback on the design and delivery of the course.  See below for more information on how to access your course evaluation scores and how to use them to inform your practice.

  • Course Evaluations (from Students)
     
  • Analyzing the Results
    • Single Course Evaluation

      Use the data from the course evaluations to improve the work you do with that particular course.

      Look for comments that have to do with the program, such as "This course should come before COR102 because I really needed this information."  Share this information with your academic leader (Program Director, Department Chair, Assistant Dean), so student feedback can be included in program-level decisions.

      Look for specific, positive comments.  What were aspects of the class that students really enjoyed or engaged with?  Make sure those aspects of the course remain in place.

      Examine the responses item by item.  Resist the urge to "argue" mentally with the results.  Instead, investigate.  If item 5 (Course requirements are clearly communicated) is low, take some time to review where you lay out the course requirements.  Look at the syllabus and Blackboard in particular.  Are your course objectives clear?  Are the assignment requirements clear?  Think back on the semester.  Were there assignments that you had to spend time explaining in class or was there a particular assignment that students emailed you questions about?  If so, go back and add details to those assignments to increase the transparency.

    • Multi-Course Evaluation

      While single-course evaluations give us good information about how well that particular course is received, multi-course evaluations give us feedback on our strengths and opportunities for growth as instructors.  Looking across all courses taught, look for patterns in the responses.  Do students typically rate your courses high on faith integration?  Then you are probably doing something right there.  Spend some time reflecting on what you do, and then make a commitment to do that even more intentionally in the future.  Do students typically rate your courses low in feedback?  Take a look at how much feedback you give and how quickly you give it to students.  If you find that you are not able to give feedback quickly, examine your schedule and your course assignments.  Are there changes you can make that will increase the speed with which you provide feedback?
      For each course (in the semester or in the year), find the three items that had the highest percentage of four's and five's.  Record those three items for each class.  Look to see which items show up in the top three the most consistently.  Those are likely your top strengths.  Spend time thinking about your strengths and how you can build on those.  Strengths-based coaching says that in our areas of strength, we are probably only operating at 50% of our capacity.  We can continue to grow those areas to really shine in our teaching. 
      Go back through the courses.  This time, find the three items with the lowest percentage of four's and five's.  Record those three items for each class.  Look to see which items show up the most often.  That is likely an area where you are having difficulty as an instructor.  Spend some time thinking about why those might show up consistently.  Then spend some time on the TLC website or contact the TLC for a consultation.  We are here to help you find amazing resources and can often provide you with a few tips that you can implement rather easily. 
      Whether you are looking to build on your strengths or develop new skills, this reflection exercise will provide you with actionable data. 

 

Course Design Evaluation

At the TLC, we have a number of tools you can use to evaluate the design of the course.  You can explore the use of time, the quality of the teaching materials, the alignment of the assignments with the course objectives, and much more!  See below for some of these tools, and look for seminars and workshops to help you use the tools, analyze the results, and make changes to your course based on your own feedback.

  • Analyzing Course Quality
    • Syllabus Review

      To what extent does your syllabus support student learning?  This syllabus rubric was designed to measure the extent to which the syllabus supports student learning.  Using this rubric, instructors can find areas to improve the way the syllabus is structured and how it communicates the course objectives and requirements.  Increasing the transparency of a rubric is associated with higher levels of student satisfaction with the course.
      Syllabus rubric
      Syllabus rubric scoring sheet
    • Quality Matters Rubric

      Quality Matters scoring is required for all courses taught in Hybrid, Hyflex, and Online Asynchromous modalities.  To be approved for these modalities, courses must be built with instructional designers, reach a qualifying score on this rubric, and be approved through Educational Effectiveness.  When major changes are made to the course, the course should be scored again to ensure the course is maintaining a passing score on the rubric.
       
      Instructors can use this rubric as a guide for thinking about improving the quality of the course design.  Ongoing measures of quality should be recorded and documented.
      Quality Matters Rubric
    • Blackboard Quality Checklist

      Courses that meet in a face-to-face or live synchronous format are enhanced by high-quality Blackboard design.  Although these courses are not required to go through a full Quality Matter review, applying elements of Quality Matters to the Blackboard course is one way to ensure that the course supports student learning and engagement.  

      Blackboard Quality Checklist

    • Time on Task Review

      Courses are required to engage students in course content for a specified number of hours per accreditation standards.  Instructors can analyze the learning tasks in their course using these materials to see how much time students should spend engaged with learning activities.

      Time on Task Scoring Sheet

      Time on Task Reference Guide

    • Equity Audit

       
    • DQP Analysis

       
     
  • Scholarly Teaching and Couse Design
    • Analysis of Student Work

      • Syllabus Review

        To what extent does your syllabus support student learning?  This syllabus rubric was designed to measure the extent to which the syllabus supports student learning.  Using this rubric, instructors can find areas to improve the way the syllabus is structured and how it communicates the course objectives and requirements.  Increasing the transparency of a rubric is associated with higher levels of student satisfaction with the course.
        Syllabus rubric
        Syllabus rubric scoring sheet
      • Quality Matters Rubric

        Quality Matters scoring is required for all courses taught in Hybrid, Hyflex, and Online Asynchromous modalities.  To be approved for these modalities, courses must be built with instructional designers, reach a qualifying score on this rubric, and be approved through Educational Effectiveness.  When major changes are made to the course, the course should be scored again to ensure the course is maintaining a passing score on the rubric.
         
        Instructors can use this rubric as a guide for thinking about improving the quality of the course design.  Ongoing measures of quality should be recorded and documented.
        Quality Matters Rubric
      • Blackboard Quality Checklist

        Courses that meet in a face-to-face or live synchronous format are enhanced by high-quality Blackboard design.  Although these courses are not required to go through a full Quality Matter review, applying elements of Quality Matters to the Blackboard course is one way to ensure that the course supports student learning and engagement.  

        Blackboard Quality Checklist

    • Analysis of the Literature

      • Syllabus Review

        To what extent does your syllabus support student learning?  This syllabus rubric was designed to measure the extent to which the syllabus supports student learning.  Using this rubric, instructors can find areas to improve the way the syllabus is structured and how it communicates the course objectives and requirements.  Increasing the transparency of a rubric is associated with higher levels of student satisfaction with the course.
        Syllabus rubric
        Syllabus rubric scoring sheet
      • Quality Matters Rubric

        Quality Matters scoring is required for all courses taught in Hybrid, Hyflex, and Online Asynchromous modalities.  To be approved for these modalities, courses must be built with instructional designers, reach a qualifying score on this rubric, and be approved through Educational Effectiveness.  When major changes are made to the course, the course should be scored again to ensure the course is maintaining a passing score on the rubric.
         
        Instructors can use this rubric as a guide for thinking about improving the quality of the course design.  Ongoing measures of quality should be recorded and documented.
        Quality Matters Rubric

 

Course Delivery Evaluation

Delivering the course content requires a number of strategies and skills.  To determine whether you are engaging students in meaningful conversations, using class time wisely, and more, we recommend that you schedule some time for others to come in an observe your teaching.  Focused observations (where the observer has a clear aspect to observe) can provide instructors with meaningful feedback to improve course delivery.  Check below for some of the observation protocols that may interest you!

Observations

One way to gather information about Course Delivery is to have a colleague or supervisor conduct an observation of your teaching. 

Observations are most effective when the instructor has a clear idea regarding the type of feedback s/he wishes to receive.  This allows the observer to focus on a particular set of data during the observation, and the instructor gets better, focused feedback. 

  • Conducting Peer Observations
    • Preparing for an Observation

      To prepare for an observation, select the observation protocol below that matches the kind of feedback you would like to receive.  Reach out to a colleague, supervisor, or the TLC to ask for that person's time to provide you with valuable feedback.  Schedule a time to meet, so you can share the type of feedback you are looking for and the observation protocol you have chosen.  Schedule a time for the observer to come to your class, or provide the observer with a recording of a class session you conducted.  It is best to go ahead and schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss the results of the observation when you schedule the class to observe.  This ensures that you can meet as close to the observation as possible.  The longer you wait to get feedback, the more the specifics will fade from both of your minds.  
    • Conducting an Observation

      When you have been asked to observe a colleague, it is important to provide clear feedback that the instructor can use.  This means sticking to observable facts rather than impressions of the class.  For example, saying, "You did a good job asking questions!" is not as helpful as saying, "You asked 25 questions during the class period.  I wrote them down so you can review them and decide if they are of the level and quality that you were hoping to get."  The first statement may cause the instructor to feel good momentarily, but is s/he asked you to observer the class, it is likely that there was an issue that s/he wanted to address.  The second statement provides clear data that the instructor can use to evaluate the teaching and create an action plan.  Therefore, when you are conducting the observation, take notes on what you see and hear happening as factual statements. "Four students raised their hands to answer" instead of "Only a few students tried to respond" or "Good student response rate!"
    • Post Observation Meeting

      Schedule to meet again as soon as possible to be sure the information is fresh in your mind.  This allows the instructor to ask the observer about any statements in the observation protocol.  If the instructor wants to know, "How did I do?" or "What do you think I should improve on?" it is important that there is a conversation about how we give and take feedback.  Some instructors want the unvarnished opinons of their colleagues.  Other instructors know that something too harsh will be upsetting, so they may ask the observer to couch any constructive feedback in nice terms.  They may also ask the observer to only provide one or two recommendations, so the instructor feels they have manageable chunks to work on.  A good rule of thumb for most people is for the observer to give one piece of feedback that is a strength and one piece of feedback that is an opportunity to grow. (e.g. You ask a lot of questions and are really able to engage students in answering them.  I recommend making one or two of those questions higher-level critical thinking questions.  You do such a good job of engaging students, I think you will be able to get them to chew on harder material rather easily.")
     
  • Observation Tools
    • Course Evaluation Observation Form

      This form was created to align with the course evaluations that are given at the end of the semester.  The items from the course evaluations have been turned into observable behaviors that occur in the classroom.  An observer will take notes (it is suggested that the observer use the Double Entry Narrative Form to conduct the observation, and then use this form to note the behaviors that were observed afterward.)

      Because this observation tool is aligned with the course evaluations, instructors are encouraged to review the data from an observation as formative feedback to adjust classroom behaviors.  This can be helpful for determining what students are experiencing that cause particularly high or low scores on the course evaluations.

      Course Evaluation Alignment Feedback Form

    • General Observations and Notes

      If you will join a class and give your peer general observations and notes, the Double Entry Narrative form is a good one to use.  
      In the left hand column, note what you see and hear happening in the class.  In the far left column, put the time that those events happened, so you can refer to specific times later. Then, jot down your thoughts or questions about what happened in the right hand column.  The purpose of this form is to separate what we see and hear from our interpretations.  This will result in more focused and useful feedback for the instructor being observed.
    • Student Engagement Form

      Primarily designed for observations of discussion-based or lecture-based classes, this form tracks the number and type of responses from the students.  This form is especially useful for instructors who would like to know more about who is responding and how often.  Data from this form can be used to reflect on engagement techniques and strategies.

      Student Engagement Observation Form

    • Group Dynamic Observation Form

      For classes that engage in group work quite a bit, such as small/large-group discussions, lab work, and hands-on applications, the Group Dynamics Observation Form gives useful information about how well those groups are working.  This is important information for the instructor to use to reflect on the structure provided for the activity, coaching that may need to happen with groups or individuals, professional dispositions that are displayed in group work, and whether the group work is furthering the educational aims the instructor intended.

    • Time Use Form

      Sometimes it feels like the time in class just slips away from us.  These are two observation forms that track what is happening in class - what is the instructor (teacher) doing and what are the students doing?

      Data from these forms can be used to reflect on the use of time in class and the degree to which students are actively or passively involved in the class. Instructors can analyze their class structure to determine what should stay the same and what should change to increase time-on-task and active learning in the classroom.

      The Time Use Observation Form has pre-determined student actions and teacher actions.  The observer checks off what is happening every two minutes to provide a set of data.

      The Minute-by-Minute chart asks the observer to track student and teacher behaviors every minute.  Unlike the previous form, there are no pre-determined behaviors, so the observer writes what s/he sees and hears.  This form can be modified to be every two or three minutes. Additionally, the observer might not write every minute, but may record significant behaviors in the correct line to indicate where it was in the class session the behavior occurred.

    • Question Observation Form

      Analyzing the questions that we ask, how much time we provide students to think, and how we engage students in discussing possible answers is a critical part of analyzing our teaching techniques.  The Questions Observation Form asks observers to catalog the type of question asked (Convergent or Divergent), the amount of wait time provided (time between the question being asked and the students responding), and responses from the student.  The form ends with some thought-provoking questions that can help instructors reflect on their teaching.  For more information about types of questions and the different purposes for questioning, check out this blog post from our TLC blog.