Tuesday, July 15, 2008

teaching evaluations

Today I finally saw my teaching evaluations from last fall and spring. I went and asked one of the department secretaries directly since I've never received a notice saying I can see them.

I wanted to see the evaluations because tomorrow I want to give my own teaching evaluations to my students. I did this last semester (since I hadn't gotten any feedback from the fall) and it was helpful for me.

First I should say that the evaluations were very positive overall. There was one student each semester (out of about 60) that clearly didn't like me or think highly of me. I suppose that is to be expected. Nearly everyone rated me very high on enthusiasm for the subject.

A few students said I was the best TA they've had. Here is an excerpt from the single best comment I received on the evaluations:
I personally love Karina Anirak as a TA. I would absolutely recommend her for any student... Through her help, bio has made me exceptionally able to embrace the earth, plants, ecology, and living. I would love to see more of her in the future.
Wow! If only I could do that for everyone! I have no idea which student wrote that, but I wish I knew who it was!

Several people each semester mentioned my grading. Some people thought I was too nit-picky. I don't think the grades I give are lower on average than the other TAs, and if anything they might be higher so I'm not terribly concerned with this comment. If the students are unsure why they didn't receive full credit they should talk to me, and I tell them that.

There are definitely some things I can improve. Now that I've seen these evaluations I will try to circulate more among the groups to ask them challenging questions testing their comprehension of the exercises. I tend to hang out at the front of the classroom unless people have questions once I've checked that everyone is on the right track because I don't like to hover around the students. I'm going to make a point of thinking of questions I can ask them when no one needs my help (which this summer they really don't).

I didn't rate as highly on emphasizing the key concepts or importance of the exercise so I'll try to do that more. I think this summer I've been doing a better job of that than I did the first time I taught these labs in the spring.

I also ranked somewhat lower for "encouraged students to think independently." I find it's a very fine line to walk between giving them enough structure and background information to understand what they're doing and why they're doing it (as above) while giving them room to think for themselves about the exercises. It's grappling with difficulties like this that make me wish I had more guidance, support, and mentoring for becoming a better teacher.

Now I've got to stop blogging and start writing my own mid-term teaching evaluations!

1 comment:

membracid said...

Oh, evaluation reading is always difficult. I'll get 40 that loved me and say I'm great....and one that hated my guts.

And yet, I still feel more pain over that one than happy about the 40. It makes no sense.

Fortunately, as I've taught longer, it gets a little less traumatic each year.

If you do make it to the ESA meeting, shoot me a note--we can have a teaching/mentoring lunch :D