I am not alone in my appreciation of the liberal arts. Those of privilege have appreciated liberal education historically. It has contributed to their access and hold on power and influence. Their sons and daughters, generation after generation, have attended liberal arts institutions without hesitation. There is no job training in their educational landscape. It would be tragic if all the new and previously underserved populations now having access to higher education missed the opportunity for their turn at leadership and influence simply because of the outspoken — arguably purposeful — dismissal of the liberal arts as “useless,” often by those who received a liberal arts education themselves and intend nothing less for their own children.
How Am I Doing - Teacher Evaluation beyond Bubble-In Surveys: Student Engagement
We’re not making an argument against the standard surveys of students assessing teaching performance. However, the Center has always advocated that faculty desirous of becoming better teachers needed more feedback, earlier and in different forms. This is the first post in short series highlighting ways for faculty to know how they’re doing as teachers.
1. On a large-ish lecture course I get lots of questions during lecture. It is actually quite hard to get students to pipe up during a big lecture class. [..] I usually will stop after discussing a difficult concept and ask if there are any questions. They key here is to wait a full minute before proceeding since it is rare that students can both digest what you just said and come up with a question. [..] After a few lectures, if you are lucky, hands simply start popping up at all times without the “awkward minute o’ silence”. Then you know you’ve got ‘em.
2. Lots of people show up to office hours with elaborate questions and what-ifs about the material. I take showing up to office hours as a sign of being interested enough to make sure you really understand the material. [..] I find that the average office hour visitor is part of the hard-core clique of students that are just curious.
3. Students send unsolicited emails with scientific papers they found and wanted to get my take on them. Or with general more philosophical questions. Sure, a lot of “studies” the students ask me about are either based on popular press articles or related to some new alternative woo (eg. “Prof, this paper says they found the medical basis of Reiki!”). But you can use this to teach the students how find the primary source material on their own, and to teach them about differentiating science from pseudoscience.
4. After the term is over students send you emails thanking you for the course.
»via Anonymous/Taking It to the Bridge
Of course, items 3-4 are almost as much a barometer of student interest in the course itself as in teaching performance. We’d expect to see more of this behavior in upper-level courses. However, the key is really engagement. At Jackson State, SIRS data over time indicate a strong correlation between high scores in engagement variables and overall rating of the course. While 3-4 may be too much to ask for in your core course, look for other signs that students are engaging with the content and skills that the course emphasizes.