Tips from the McMaster Community

Course evaluation is often a big waste of time.
Dale Roy, Centre for Leadership in Learning

The student rating information I receive at the end of term gives me a warm feeling (or not) but never really had much of an effect on how I taught. The information comes too late - usually too long after the course is over and the students have gone.

I decided that a better time to ask students how the course was going was about six weeks into the term, early enough to make subtle changes in the course.

In the first six weeks, I try for variety in how I teach. The evaluation consists of asking students to consider which kind of teaching they have found most helpful and the kind they have found least helpful. Where there is consensus, I agree to do more of what is helpful and less of that which is not.

Since nearly all of my students have other courses, I also ask them to make specific suggestions based on what seems to work in these other courses. This is a great source of new ideas since, collectively, my students have worked with hundreds of other teachers.

In the end, I almost always have a clearer idea about what to emphasize for the remainder of the term, and at least one or two new ideas to try out.

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