Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Student Feedback

I (finally) had access to my course evaluations this morning; one has to wait to read one's course evals (one has to have submitted all grades; a minimum number of students have to have had completed the course evals; and the period for course evals to be completed has to be course evaluation period has to be concluded), and I dislike waiting for feedback because I like to know what my students think of my class.

One class just did not like me. Well, two students in the same class didn't like me. Thankfully no curse words were used, but clearly they didn't think I had much to offer. It didn't surprise me; this came from the afternoon class at the main campus, a class I had trouble with, and this was reflected in the grades of at least half of them. I had many students who simply stopped showing up, and at least one student regularly groused at me for not giving her information she hadn't shown up in class to get (or, for that matter, could have gotten on the course website). She didn't do well because she didn't bother to familiarize herself with the assignments, and then questioned why she didn't do well. The mental connection just wasn't there.

Perhaps one does treat different section differently; it's certainly not done intentionally, and I really can't grok how I treated these particular students any differently than the students in my other classes. One or two accusations of a bad attitude from one section since January 2012 isn't something I'm worried about; I'm just curious as to what I may have said that would have been interpreted the way it was.

The problem with course evals comes down to things like, "the professor offered no feedback," which conflicts with more students who said I did provide feedback (sometimes "good feedback"). It's like a love language in that I'm trying to figure out a way of giving students feedback, or the correct amount of feedback, or presented in such a way that the student understands that it's feedback, and provided in such a way that each student can "hear" this feedback. 

I still remember one student, a few semesters ago, complaining during the last week of the semester that I didn't answer any of her questions. This student did not once raise her hand, send an e-mail, or speak to me before, during, or after class; I asked her if she had asked me a question using any of those methods that I hadn't responded to, and she just shrugged. But some students still don't see the connection between speaking up and getting their questions answered, or they don't quite know how to complain in such a way that isn't a personal attack.

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