Monday, May 20, 2013

What I Learned from Anonymous Teaching Evaluations

At the end of each semester, instructors at my institution are granted a wonderful opportunity to receive anonymous feedback from students regarding our performance and the students’ overall experience of the course.  If the internet has proven anything, it is that the ability to evaluate others and comment on their work anonymously is always a helpful and productive enterprise that produces a clear and accurate picture of…something, I guess.  While my evaluations were, by and large, quite positive this semester (“toot toot” goes my own horn), I thought it might be helpful to fellow instructors if I shared the valuable insights that I gained from this round of anonymous commentary:

I “was very through (sic) with my lectures” and one student “enjoyed his [my] use of modern news stories to relate to the current lecture material.”  I was “very enthusiastic when talking about the different topics,” “a bit unexciting,” “kind of boring,” and “made my lectures interesting and entertaining,” though there should be “less lectures.”

A student was “often surprised at how much work you [I] put into it [the class].”  Another noted that “each activity was relevant to the course,” while a colleague of theirs listed their “likes” as “activities, groupwork, and instructor’s respect for students.”  Others were left desiring “more discussion and hands-on activities in class,” another to “delve deeper into religious ethics on sexuality, premarital sex, and economics” and one lamenting that I failed to “bring in more of the religious perspective.” 

One particular evaluation stands out: a student appreciated “history and view on [sic] different religions Buddhism and Islam” while noting that the course “focused on western religions” and there was “nothing on Buddhist or other Eastern religions way to salvation.”  It appears that the history and views I taught about Buddhism were a pro while my treatment of Buddhist soteriology was lacking?

I gave “easy tests and quizzes,” “paper feedback” was listed as a positive aspect of the course, and I was “really nice, told us [the students] what I expected, [and was] very understanding,” although another stated that “I feel like he should lighten up on the grading of papers.”

One final student lamented that I neglected to “encourage application/personal opinions on the subject matter"...but I guess that’s what anonymous evaluations are for.

Thanks for reading.