Well, although I was taken away from this blog for a while, I am now back with some ideas from the semester. I can officially say that I just had the best semester of my teaching career. It wasn’t perfect, but the work that I did over the summer has paid off! My classes have been stronger than ever and I really feel like that the students have acquired a lot.
I am getting to that time of year where I like to find out what has worked for students and what has not worked. I really like doing this because it helps to make my classroom better. There are a few ways to do this and I have tried all of them. I will tell you what has worked the best for me.
How to evaluate?
- Have a discussion with the class.
- Make a paper survey and have them fill it out.
- Use an online site to make a survey.
I have found that using an online site works the best. It gives me statistics, I don’t have to make copies, and it is automatically saved for future reference. The site that I use is quia.com. I chose this site because I can also create quizzes and games. It is easier for me to have one site that does multiple jobs.
Making a paper survey is the next best thing because then I can hear from all of the students rather than just a handful. Also, if needed I can show them to parents at conferences.
For me, the class discussion comes in last place. The reason is that it is really hard to control and can quickly turn into a complain fest, which is never good for a class. Also, you can’t refer to it later because it happens in the moment and you run the risk of a small, loud group voicing an opinion that does not reflect the thoughts of the whole group. With an online evaluation, students can voice their opinion without feeling peer pressure and the data is more reliable.
- Before the final test
- After the final test
I tend to prefer giving it before the final test. The reason is that a final test is a culminating event. After a final, you feel done with the class and are ready to move on with your life.
- Keep the questions relatively short and simple.
- Try not ask yes or no questions. This will give you more data.
- Have a mixture of multiple choice with essay.
- Have no more than 10 questions. 5 or 6 is probably good enough. They don’t want it to take forever.
- Keep the name optional. This will allow a choice for those who want to put their name on it, while keeping a certain amount of anonymity for others.
I am really looking forward to the evaluations this year. I value what my students have to say and desire to make my classroom more effective. The information that the students give us in invaluable and could really make a difference. I am sure I will find myself saying, “Wow. I never thought of that.”