a Mid-Term Evaluation to Give Students
Responsibility for the Course
Loevinger, Graduate Instructor, Department of English
I teach ENWR 101, the basic composition course for the College, we are
required to notify our students of their mid-term progress. At this time,
I have always handed out a list of evaluation questions for the students
to evaluate me also. This semester I modified my procedure to allow the
students not only to evaluate me, but to evaluate each other.
my class had consisted of a bunch of disparate individuals who stumbled
into the room half-awake, and often half-prepared, put their heads down
on the desk, and generally resisted attempts to get them to enter whatever
discussion we were supposed to be having. All my previous attempts to
correct this problem had failed. I tried glaring at students who were
talking to each other during discussion, but they looked at me and kept
on talking. I tried asking students to paraphrase each other's remarks
during discussion, but they answered, "I wasn't listening."
Finally, when it was time for mid-term evaluations, I included two new
questions for the students to answer:
is the one thing you want me to do to improve the course?"
is the one thing you want the other students to do to improve the course?"
gave remarkably honest responses to these questions. They did not hesitate
to criticize themselves and the other students for failing to participate
fully in the class.
all the evaluations, I typed the responses on one page, selecting those
that should be most helpful from the other questions on the evaluation,
but including all the responses to Question #2 above. I then distributed
this page of responses to the class along with brief comments on what
responses I had received and on how I would attempt to answer those responses
directed at me. I don't know whether it was the objective analysis of
writing down the answer to the question, or the peer pressure of reading
what other students had said about their behavior, but I noticed a distinct
change in my class after this point. The students became more active in
class discussion and came to class more prepared, probably because they
were more conscious of how the other students perceived them, and they
wanted to live up to the standards that they themselves had set.
In sum, I
recommend giving students mid-term evaluation questions, such as those
discussed by Charles Heuchert in the November 1992 Teaching Concerns,
but I would also stress the value of adding a question that makes the
students come to terms with their own responsibility for their education.