Spring Student Evaluations of Teaching Can Provide Insight Into Assessment

Student evaluation of teaching for the Spring 2017 semester are in.  Often at the close of the day, I will have a nice glass of wine before reading mine because the comments can be very polarizing.  Comments like, “She is the best professor ever,” and “Why did Syracuse ever hire her?” can be found for the same course.  However, once you get past those types of comments, many of the student evaluations of our teaching can offer some assessment insight into how we delivering course content.  

Take a moment to look for themes between the courses you teach.  With the assessment committee, your department chair, dean or director, see if there were any commonalities regarding course delivery, difficulty of the course, the content uniqueness, etc.

Once you have analyzed the information and looked for themes between the sections you and others teach or between the courses you teach, think about and discuss strategies you should repeat because they seem to work or consider new strategies to deliver the content.  Consider if there is too much repetition or not enough overlapping content so that the courses seem disconnected when they should be sequential.  Write down what you found, what the findings mean and how you use the evaluations to improve teaching and when you might make certain changes.

In fact, you, your department, school or college might even decide to add in questions regarding learning outcomes for the course, the program or the proposed Syracuse 4+4 to understand from an indirect measurement perspective how the unit is preforming from a student perspective.  Then, you would have another indirect measure of student learning. 

Then by presenting the data, analyzing the findings, considering how to make improvements and creating a plan to implement and re-evaluate those adjustments, you have closed the loop on assessment.  That simple – even with those helpful and somewhat irritating student evaluations can be a helpful tool in assessing student learning.

The Middle States accreditation review will look closely on how we as an institution think about assessment as students, faculty, staff and administrators.  It is not difficult and it is beneficial to improving the student experience both in the classroom and outside of the classroom too. 

Gives us your feedback on how Syracuse is doing assessing the instruction and student experience by reading the Draft of Syracuse University Middle States Self Study, especially chapter four sections three and four related to instruction and the student experience.

Assessment matters, to learn more visit assessment.syr.edu.

 By Rochelle Ford