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Class Evaluations—calling a METIC and bring post-its

January 5, 2012

Last year, I wrote about calling a METIC: the process I had developed for a mid-year course evaluation that went beyond simply having the student respond to a survey and then never hearing any sort of follow up from the teacher. I try to incorporate 3 elements into my evaluation system, with the hopes that students will see that it is our shared responsibility to continue to work to improve our class, and feedback is the key to doing so.

The three elements are:

    1. Individual self reflection and dialogue with the teacher.

This is a written reflection I ask students to write and share with me as a google doc. The google doc makes it easy for me to write comments, and hopefully can initiate a dialogue with students. I am always amazed by the how thoughtfully and honestly students complete these evaluations. I adapted this survey from my colleague and friend, Mark Hammond.

View this document on Scribd
  1. Group discussion and reflectionI think it’s important for students to also know how other members of the class are feeling. To do this, I present a series of 4 questions (slide deck below) on the smartbaord and have students vote anonymously using poll everywhere (which kids love and find very novel).The question I usually frame each poll with is “why might a student feel that they aren’t learning a lot/can’t participate, etc and what can we do to make it better?”
  2. A second chance for some anonymous feedback and group analysis. This time, I use a gamestorming activity I took from my colleagues Bo Adams and Jill Gough. I ask students to take 8 post-its. I ask them to write the following things, placing each thing on an individual post-it.
      1. Two things that help your learning in this class
      2. Two things that hurt your learning in this class
      3. Two things that you can do to improve our learning in this class
      4. Two things that I can do to improve your learning in this class.

    Students then place the notes in different sections on the whiteboard, and then work to group the post-its by theme. Here’s what it looks like:

    Things I can do to improve learning

    Things that hurt student learning in our class. (the clear winner is being disruptive during discussion)

    Things students can do to increase their learning.

  3. Completely anonymous feedback. Typically the group discussion that there are a few students who are pretty far off from the thinking of the rest of the class. I usually end class by urging those students to find a way to share their concerns with me, and if they really feel they can’t say something to me, to use our anonymous feedback form—which gets almost no traffic.

Overall, I find this process seems to work well. Certainly the time and effort we put into it helps students that this is an important exercise, and that they have a vital role to play in making our class better. I’ll try to post some insights from the feedback when I finish reading the 35 reflections I need to look at this weekend.

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