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Evals, part two April 21, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, engineering, teaching.
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I got my ratings for teaching last semester, which I discuss here.  I didn’t get back any comments, however.  When I went down to campus this week, I found out that the secretary for the dept. has to type all of the comments in and give me a typewritten copy…and they’d been sitting in my box for two months.  (I didn’t realize I still had a box since I wasn’t teaching this semester!) This is apparently to maximize the anonymity of the students.

Of the 90ish students, 11 left comments.  I’m kind of surprised because it seemed like before, fully half of the students left comments.  Usually I like to pull out a sample, but since there are so few, I’ll just put them all down…numbered so I can refer to them more easily.

1. Relatively easy course.  Good use of Blackboard. Made communicating easy and quick.

2. She didn’t do a very good job of explaining some assignments.  She was a very nice teacher, though.

3. Cherish is a good teacher.  I just don’t think this course is necessary.

4. Need to learn more about the fields.

5. The course was interesting and I enjoyed covering some topics.  Cherish is very good at covering topics and explaining things.

6. This course has some good content but I don’t think the majority helps out.

7. LOL

8. A very interesting course.  I learned a lot about what being an engineer means.

9. Very good job with the class. The extra help in figuring out my next semester was very helpful.  Thanks!

10. I very much enjoyed this class. The instructor made it fun.

11. Set up syllabus that is actually going to be used.  Changing it multiple times is too confusing.

First, I was amused at #7.  I wish I knew what part they were LOLing about.

That said, I have to say I’m overjoyed with the comments.  I’ve really never had comments that overwhelmingly positive.  (Yay for teaching engineering students!) There was actually some good feedback in there, as well.

I’m glad #1 liked the use of blackboard.  I’ve decided that I’m going to use it more than I did this semester.  It made it so much easier to keep track of assignments.  There are probably two or three assignments that can’t be submitted on blackboard, but I’m going to require all the others be submitted that way.  Also, I’m going to spend a lot more time explaining how to use it as some students were really confused once we got into things.

Number 2 said I didn’t do a good job of explaining some assignments, and I think that’s a very fair observation.  When we were talking about lab notebooks and reports, it was very clear that some of the students were confused as to what I expected.  Having been through it once, I have a much better way to frame out those assignments in particular for future use.

Numbers 3 and 6 are probably the same sort of thing.  Realistically, I’d say that half of the students in the class really didn’t need the class.  On the other hand, you can never tell which students are going to be in the half that do, so they hit everyone and hope it sticks.

Number 4 – that was another assignment that needs work.  For that assignment, I had student groups give presentations on subfields of engineering.  It was obvious that I need to provide more guidance about what sources to use.  Some of them got very fixated on one little aspect of the subfield and didn’t give a very good overview of the subfield as a whole.

The last comment is probably the only one that annoyed me.  I told students at the beginning that the syllabus was subject to change, and being the first time I’d taught the course, I pretty much guaranteed it would change.  So how many times did I change it?  Once, and I made a mistake on the homework list that needed to be fixed near the end of the semester.  Honestly, I’ve had teachers who give a syllabus and then don’t even bother to use it…so I guess this will be a learning experience for that student.  (BTW, my ‘syllabus’ included a full list of lecture topics, assignment requirements and due dates, etc. so that they pretty much had everything laid out for them.  It wasn’t the typical, “Here’s your books, grading scheme, and office hours.”  You know that’s going to require a revision when you’ve never done it before.)

I have been asked to teach this class again in the fall…along with one or two others.  I have some choices to make, but given how well this one went, I really think I’d like to do it again.

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