End-of-semester evaluations provide a collective written portrait of our courses from the students' point of view. Yet as we read evaluations one by one, it is often easier to focus on isolated comments-usually the glowing and the incendiary-than to spot patterns of constructive feedback on course content, teaching, and learning. With this in mind, I developed the "Course Evaluation Follow-up," a note-taking guide for reading and synthesizing course evaluations.
While the primary purpose of the "Course Evaluation Follow-up" is to identify and distill recurring and representative feedback on the course, the form provides a place for teachers to highlight specific praise and to address embarrassing, frustrating remarks. In the short term, the form allows teachers to fine-tune their courses based on valid criticism rather than reaction to unusual comments. Later, teachers can turn to a collection of organized notes and quotes rather than stacks of old evaluations as they reconsider a course or perhaps compile a teaching portfolio. Having briefly summarized their teaching strengths each semester (see item 4 on the form), teachers will be better prepared to discuss their performance on reflective essays and during job or promotion and tenure interviews.
This form has helped me to revise my own courses, and it has saved me hours of work as a TA supervisor and mentor. I use the completed forms to guide my own reading of the TAs' evaluations each semester. When it comes time to write a letter of recommendation, I pull the forms from my files. The combination of the TA's notes, the highlighted quotes, and my own annotations makes it possible to support statements such as "Mary's course evaluations are always stellar" with specific examples, without rereading hundreds of evaluations.
"Course Evaluation Follow-up" Form and directions:
Course number/section(s): ___________
Experience with course: ______________________________________________
Experience teaching French at U.Va.: ____________________________________
1. Patterns of positive evaluation: In what areas do you see a pattern of positive feedback from your students (i.e., grammar presentation, classroom dynamics, fairness)? Do you see a difference in the type of positive comments you've received this semester vis-à-vis those from semesters past?
2. Patterns of negative evaluation: According to these evaluations, what areas of teaching might you improve? What could you do to improve these aspects of your teaching in the future? Be specific.
3. Misunderstandings: Are there any isolated comments which bother you, and/or to which you would like to respond?
Summarize in just one or two sentences the overall portrait of your
teaching depicted in these evaluations. What will you continue to
do in the future? What will you do differently?