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Are you tired of relying on student evals as the only form of student feedback on your courses? Is that feedback even helpful at all? Personally, I prefer to ask my students course-specific questions at the end of the semester. That way, I gain insight into how my students feel about the required texts, assignments, and course tools I’ve chosen to use during a particular semester (among other information). In today’s post, I describe the seven elements I ask about when designing a course assessment [here’s the video version]. I highly recommend designing your own versions for your future courses. [If you’ve found yourself teaching online suddenly, here are more tips for that situation.]Are you tired of relying on student evals as the only form of student feedback on your courses? Design your own course assessment instead. #edutwitter Click To Tweet
1. Required Texts
Which required texts do you feel you learned the most from by reading/watching/discussing/analyzing them? Circle all that apply.example question
Class reading materials are definitely the foundation of any literature course (and I’d say, any humanities course, at the least). As such, the first questions I ask my students focus on the books, movies, and other materials I have students read/watch throughout the semester. The answers to these questions tend to range quite drastically. For every lover of fantasy, there is a student who prefers to only read nonfiction. Still, asking questions related to the required texts can give you a sense if any of them were received particularly well or poorly.
Want to see my standard course assessment questions? I’ve added a PDF with all my questions to my resource library. Not a subscriber yet? Here’s the link to gain access to all my resources!
2. Major Assignments
Is there anything specific about the design of any major assignment that you feel was particularly beneficial for your learning experience? If so, what?EXAMPLE QUESTION
Alongside the required texts questions, the questions about the major course assignments tend to also be quite revealing. I ask which assignments students thought most and least beneficial to their learning experiences, but I also ask them about how they’d improve the assignment designs. That way, I can get a sense of what they thought worked well or didn’t work well about a particular assignment. Asking about the assignment sheets themselves is also something to consider adding into your course assessment. Perhaps the reason they didn’t like an assignment is because they couldn’t understand the instructions.
3/4. Class & Homework Activities
Overall, what elements of the class did you find most beneficial for your learning experience (i.e. lectures, small class activities, whole group discussions, splitting of reading, major assignments, etc.)?EXAMPLE QUESTION
In my literature courses, we spend most of our time discussing our required texts while in class. I use different types of discussion designs throughout the semester. [Here’s another list from Cult of Pedagogy.] At times, though, I do assign small written activities for them to complete and submit before class ends. Often, these activities take the forms of concept mapping and analytical writing. I’m always curious to know if these small activities proved helpful for their learning, or if they just saw these activities as busy work.
For homework, my students tend to simply work on their readings or their major assignments (like their group projects). Occasionally, I give them small activities to complete like posting on a discussion forum on our LMS site. In my case, asking about the homework activities tends to focus on questioning if the reading pace of the class worked for them.
Want to know more about my course assessment designs? Head over to my YouTube video that expands on this topic.
Did you find my assignment feedback clear and helpful? Was there anything missing in my feedback that you would suggest I add in the future?EXAMPLE QUESTION
While knowing how the required texts and assignment designs were perceived is essential, I’m also always invested in getting feedback on my grading approach and feedback. I give individual feedback on so many assignments. Grading takes me quite a while. So, I definitely want to know if the types of feedback I give help them complete later assignments. Or, are they ignoring this feedback completely?
6. Course Tools
What elements of our LMS site did you find beneficial for your learning experience?EXAMPLE QUESTION
While I’ve only taught in-person courses, I’m interested in teaching online courses in the future. I tend to use my LMS class sites every day of the semester. I post homework instructions on our site, send emailed announcements, and post their feedback on assignments in their LMS Drop Box folders. So, I take the time to ask about how the design of the LMS site worked for them.
If you’re someone who prefers using digital tools rather than physical notebooks to keep yourself organized, you might want to try out a digital journal.
7. True/False Statements
“More time should be spent going over the literary analysis terminology.”EXAMPLE Statements
“I expected this course to be easy, and I found this course easier than I expected from when I first arrived in class.”
Finally, there are always random pieces of information I want to know from my students in regard to my course design and teaching style. For the ones that don’t connect to the above areas, I just write out statements for them to answer with a “True” or “False.” These are quick to answer, so feel free to include as many as you’d like. Unless, of course, your other sections are so detailed that you worry your students won’t be able to complete the course assessment in class…
As instructors, we give students so much feedback throughout the semester. Why don’t we take the time to ask students for feedback in return? I tend to ask for their feedback at the midway point of the semester (find out more information on the “Midterm Chat“), but it’s great to have students think back on all they learned as the semester reaches its end, as well.
If you’d like to know even more about my course assessment design strategy, I’ve created a short YouTube video as an addition to this post. I’ve also created a video about designing a course assessment when teaching online, as a response to the COVID-19 strange hybrid semester.
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