Teaching Evaluation Toolkit
Student learning assessment is essential to knowing if students are learning course content. Assessment data is used to track learning and make curricular changes based on students' progress. Along with data based on course work it is important to evaluate teaching practices at various points in the semester. Effective teaching evaluation includes multiple sources of data such as self-reflection, peer feedback, and student feedback. Multiple sources of data about teaching ensures that instructors can make informed decisions about pedagogical approaches and curriculum design.
Reflective practice for teachers is a self-assessment of teaching, where an instructor examines their pedagogy, articulates reasons and strengths for their strategies, and identifies areas for revision or improvement. When using reflection, instructors think critically about their teaching and problem-solve for solutions to recurring issues, rather than relying on unchanging, established personal norms. There are many ways to start a reflective practice. To get started consider two simple tools:
Keep a journal to reflect on each class session throughout the semester. Set aside 5-10 minutes after each class to reflect on the following questions:
- What went well today?
- What could I have done differently?
- How will I modify my instruction in the future?
Video record (or record via Zoom/Teams) a class session and watch yourself teach. You can reflect on your teaching in two ways:
- Journal about what you see using the 3 questions above.
- Use the Video Observation Self-Reflection document to guide your reflection of the class session.
Reflective Practice Examples from UNC Faculty
- Jameson, M. (2020). Identifying Needs & Making Changes: Reflective and Reflexive Practices for Becoming
a Better Teacher, Keynote Address for the 2020 Teaching and Assessment Symposium, University of Northern
- Jameson discusses engaging in reflection practice and taking action to improve teaching and learning
- McCartin, L. & Dineen, R. (2018). Teaching assessment. In Toward a critical-inclusive assessment practice for library instruction. Library
Juice Press (chapter 3).
- McCartin and Dineen discuss journaling and video observation with examples from their practice, and provide tips for successfully implementing these techniques.
Faculty peers can provide valuable insight about teaching practice. Through observation of courses and review of course material, conversations with peers in and outside of your department can be helpful. The following resource will help you set up a peer-observation process for any delivery method.
- Peer Observation Process
- This document provides an overview of the process, which includes a pre-meeting, an observation, and a post-meeting.
- Peer Observation Form
- This form can be used to set up the peer-observation. The form can be modified to meet specific instructor needs.
- Online Peer Observation Form
- This form can be used to observe an online course in Canvas with a focus on navigation, structure, and content. The form can be modified to meet specific instructor needs. If an online course includes live synchronous components such as Zoom sessions, it is recommended that the observer also use the Peer Observation Form.
Student feedback gathered throughout the semester helps instructors make changes throughout the course to improve learning. Student feedback should focus on gathering information that you can take action on. Move away from the Likert scale satisfaction questions as these answers do not provide enough information for you to make changes to your courses.
If you want to really know how students are experiencing your classes and how you can make changes in the moment to improve student engagement and motivation, consider checking-in with students monthly. These can be very quick check-ins done on paper or as an ungraded Canvas quiz that ask simple questions, such as:
- When are you most engaged during class? Please provide specific activity/assignment examples.
- Do you feel comfortable approaching me with questions/concerns about the course? If not, how can I improve this?
- List 1-2 goals that you have for this course and discuss what you are doing to meet those goals. What can I do to better support your goals?
Mid-semester feedback is collected 6-7 weeks into the semester. This feedback provides instructors with practical and actionable insights about what is working in a course as well as recommendations for improving learning and teaching. You can adapt these mid-semester check-in forms for use in your courses. These can be used in both online or face-to-face courses; for any course delivery model you can use Qualtrics or a Canvas quiz to administer the check-in.
End-of-Semester Course Evaluation
End-of-course feedback is collected prior to the final exam and provides instructors with information about student experiences throughout the course. This feedback is used to make curricular and pedagogical changes for next semester. Likely instructors have a set of Likert scale questions used department-wide. However, it is important for each instructor to pose questions that will provide useful information to improve the course.
Tips for Writing Effective Summative Evaluation Questions
- Focus on relevant and actionable concepts. Ask students to reflect on their experience with specific aspects of your course. They will be asked to answer hundreds of course evaluation questions, so you want to make your questions relevant to them.
- Focus on one topic. Instead of asking "Were the assignments and activities useful", which asks students to reflect on two things, instead ask about just assignments or activities. It can also be useful to ask about specific assignments and activities to get detailed feedback. If you felt there was an assignment that students did not do as well on as you expected, the course evaluation is a great time to ask about this.
- Go beyond general questions such as "I learned a great deal in this course" and focus on course specifics such as assignments and lessons. This can provide more insights into improving course design and teaching.
- Ask students to reflect on their learning related to the course learning outcomes. Students can provide meaningful information for instructors by discussing if they felt the course adequately prepared them to achieve the outcomes, which assignments or activities were most relevant for each outcome, and their perceived level of achievement at the end of the course.
- How well do you feel classroom time was spent? What could be done to improve upon this?
- Did the textbook reading help you in learning course content? Did you learn more through completing the reading summaries?
- Were instructions to assignments clear? If not, did the professor take time to explain what was expected.
Asking about Equity and Inclusion
It is important that we approach course design and delivery with equitable and inclusive classroom practice. This includes how we speak to students, such as using correct proper pronouns, to how we select course materials that include diverse scholars and perspectives. You can ask questions about equity and inclusion in both Likert scale and open-ended questions.Sample Equity and Inclusion Questions:
- Do you feel that the course materials exposed you to various views of experts with different identities such as experts of color, women, or trans-scholars? Please provide specific examples.
- Did you feel that you were treated differently, either better or worse, because of a personal identity? Please be specific and discuss how this impacted your learning.
- Did you feel called-out or put on the spot during class because of a personal identity? Please be specific and discuss how this impacted your learning.
- Did the instructor use teaching technologies or other course materials that were difficult for you to access and/or hindered your ability to perform course assignments or activities? Please be specific about which technologies hindered your learning.
Tips for Getting Helpful Student Feedback
- Provide students with information about how to give helpful feedback. CETL has created a student tip sheet that you can use in your courses.
- Discuss with students the importance of course feedback and how you use feedback to improve the course.
- Assure students evaluations are anonymous and will not impact their grade.
- Remind students that you are looking for honest and direct feedback with specific examples of their learning and experience.
- Describe the type of information you are looking for in course evaluations.
Consider Face-to-Face Feedback
Sometimes traditional course evaluations do not provide in depth information for instructors about student learning and the classroom environment, making it difficult to make appropriate changes. Face-to-Face feedback provides students an opportunity to engage in a discussion about course content, organization, resources, and teaching practice that provides instructors with information useful for making curricular and pedagogical changes to enhance learning for future semesters.
How does face-to-face feedback work?
- Face-to-face feedback sessions are conducted by someone other than the course instructor to help ensure honest feedback. A feedback session is scheduled for 20-25 minutes at the end of a course session, either in-person or online. This class period can be chosen by the instructor but should be held within the 2 weeks leading up to finals week.
- During the evaluation discussion the facilitator will ask students questions specific to course content, materials, and teaching. Instructors will provide these questions one week prior to the evaluation. The facilitator will ask appropriate follow-up questions and probe deeper into answers.
- After the face-to-face feedback session the instructor is provided a report discussing the questions and major themes from the session.