Course Evaluations

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Doug_HSTeach_07, Dec 16, 2008.

  1. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Dec 16, 2008

    Ahead of the finals that I will be giving tomorrow and Thursday, I decided to give mid-year course evaluations today. My reasoning was that it would help me identify areas where I could improve my teaching. I'm just one of those people that are never satisfied and always feel there's room to improve.

    In addition, surveys like these have a way of knocking me off my pedestal and handing me a much-needed dose of humble pie. Anyway today I handed them out and read them later.

    Most of the responses were pretty positive, but a couple caught me eye and even troubled me to a certain extent. They were mainly from the quieter kids that don't speak up in class even when I call on them. They have problems because when we do simulations/debates (which we do quite often) they feel intimidated when several of their classmates dominate the discussion and upset when they get a bad grade for it.

    I am at a loss as far as this goes. I also hand out poker chips for kids that answer questions in class to be tallied throughout the quarter - my whole desire is to get the entire class involved by having some accountability for participation, but obviously this is not working as well as I had hoped.

    Are my expectations too high? Am I wrong to assess based on participation like this? They say that they have difficulty speaking up in a group, but my class is so much discussion-based. That's how we learn.

    Thoughts? This is something that has been bugging me all day. Thanks.
     
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  3. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Dec 16, 2008

    Way to go with the evals, I do them at midterms and during finals too.
     
  4. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    Dec 16, 2008

    I would say that some students are quieter. From a differentiation perspective, I would hesitate to claim "this is how we learn." That is, perhaps, how your class is structured (just as mine is structured in ways that may not be conducive to all my students).

    However, I love the evaluations idea. I also love that you are discussion-based--I would love to be able to do that with my students.

    Did any of the concern students offer other options? Did they prefer to write essays? Take tests? Create posters? What other options could you consider?

    I would say that discussions could be intimidating. I know a few of my students would definitely dominate discussions and not let others talk. Of course, I am sure you have a system in place since they are a common occurance in your class. I think some students honestly do not like talking and may learn better another way.

    Now, if they are not talking because they are lazy or unprepared, that is one thing.

    You mentioned you do call on students, so I would keep that up. ("Joe, what do you think?").

    I say keep doing what you're doing. Maybe consider an alternative assessment that if students do not participate to a satisfactory level in a discussion, they may have to write a parargraph on their thoughts for discussion points. Of course, not knowing your scoring system, I don't know how feasible this is.

    Keep doing what you're doing! The fact you are contemplating the results of your evaluations is a good thing. You seem very dynamic and effective. Maybe ask the kids what they would suggest otherwise. If it seems workable, address it. If not, ask yourself if you're okay continuing the way you are now?
     
  5. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Dec 16, 2008

    I would have been the quiet intimidated student in your classroom. I wouldn't have liked the class for that reason. (Strange, now, I'm hard to shut up sometimes and in college I was that front row with hand waving in the air student).

    Anyway ... I captured my quiet kids with online discussions. And, they have a LOT to say (write, type). Any chance you could give them that type of opportunity?
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Dec 16, 2008

    That was a much more eloquent version of what I was going to say.

    I was one of those quiet kids in school. I went to nationals in Speech and Debate, but hesitated to speak up much in class. My grades were great, and I could argue anything one on one. But I was intimidated when it came to speaking up in class.

    I don't think it's fair to grade kids based on their personality. If those kids are doing well on tests and quizzes, and can write a well thought out essay, then maybe participating in a classroom discussion is not how they learn.

    I'm not sure what the answer is. In my math class, it's a whole lot easier to ignore the whole class participation thing. So the quiet kids-- and I can easily name a dozen among all my classes-- are at no disadvantage. They need to keep up and do what we're doing, but failure to raise their hands doesn't carry any sort of a penalty.

    I think it's wonderful that you're willing to hear what the kids have to say and that their comments have you searching for other ideas! Lots of teachers aren't that brave.
     
  7. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    Dec 16, 2008

    I was the shy student who never liked to raise my hand or paticipate in class.Many of my friends were surprised when I became a teacher as I was so quiet.I think you have a great idea for evaluating the verbal and out spoken student,but perhaps there is some written format where the shy student can demonstrate their knowledge without being asked to constantly speak out which is so difficult for them.Thus you will be able to tell if they really know the required work or don't participate because they are unprepared.
     
  8. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Dec 16, 2008

    I would take a look at cooperative learning - including the Kagan website. There are plenty of ways to have students discuss without using a socratic approach. I like classes like the one you are talking about too, but I try to avoid using them because I know a good chunk of my class doesn't learn that way.
     
  9. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Dec 16, 2008

    Thank you all for the responses. They have been very helpful, and I agree- it would be easy to not give the evaluations for the sake of not seeing my own blood.

    But in a way these are great because they show me that I'm not even close to being as good as I think I am (which is pretty cocky, IMO) Evaluations and suggestions for improvement remind me that I still have lots of room to improve.

    I like the online discussion board idea- that is great!
     

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