Collect Information about Your Teaching

Consciously collect data about perspectives to deepen your understanding of your teaching effectiveness and your students’ experiences.

The irony of teaching is that it’s at once a very public act – all students’ eyes are on us – and yet it is also private as only students see our work, and as students they are often quiet or filtered in their responses to our queries, giving us feedback through the screen of the power imbalance and their own limited perspective on what constitutes excellent teaching of a subject they are just learning. In these pages, we present a variety of strategies that teachers can use to help them see their teaching from multiple perspectives.

Collect Feedback from Students

Instructors can seek information from students in many different ways, including:

  • Exit Tickets: Ask students to write briefly about what they learned in a class session, what they are confused about, or what questions they have to get instant feedback that you can use to plan the next session as well as the next time you teach this particular topic.
  • Exam wrappers or post-assignment reflections: Have students reflect on their experiences on an assignment to garner insights into how things are going and how students are approaching the course and the material.
  • In-class “feedback” sessions: Invite discussion among students about their learning to gather information and also support students’ meta-cognitive development. To implement, ask students to write quietly about what elements of the course they have found most innovative, exciting, and impactful on their learning. Then put students in small groups and task them with selecting one point to develop and present to the class. The idea here is to have students think on their own, think with others, and share their perspectives on learning.
Collect Information from Peers
  • Peer observations: Your department and contract may require these on a set schedule. You can supplement any required observation with one from the Office for Faculty Excellence that can be informal, unofficial, and shaped to address your particular concerns.
  • Syllabus and assignment review. Working with colleagues or the OFE service, ask for advice on your syllabus and/or assignments. Use your peer’s vantage point as a fellow traveler with a fresh set of eyes to understand the strengths and weaknesses of things like design, clarity, communication, and rigor. It may be helpful if you ask your peer reviewer specific questions based on elements or areas where you have seen student confusion or struggle.
Collect Information from Yourself
  • Teaching journal: Set aside a notebook or document dedicated to recording your thoughts over the semester, writing in it fairly regularly. Ideally, you could write notes in the few minutes after class, but often this is not practical. This is not a space for self-judgment, but for capturing ideas and observations fairly close to the moment that you can return to later. Some things you might note include:
    • Begin the semester by reflecting on your goals for each course you are teaching.
    • After each class or once a week, make brief notes on how your class went.
      • What worked especially well? 
      • What seemed to fall flat? 
      • What supported learning? 
      • What failed to support learning? 
      • What thoughts do you have for possible changes? 
      • What exercise, reading, or other course material do you wish to reconsider in the future?
    • Revisit your pre-semester goals at mid-semester or another logical spot, making notes for yourself about how well you have achieved them, how they have shifted, and what you should do going forward to meet these goals.
  • Annotated Syllabus: Make a copy of your syllabus to annotate and take notes on as the semester progresses. Scribble digitally or otherwise right on it, noting successes and challenges. For example, note:
    • successful readings, engaging discussion prompts, activities that worked well
    • readings that are too hard, elements of an exam that students perform poorly on, activities that didn’t quite work
  • End-of-Semester Reflection: Take a few minutes to reflect on the semester to help guide your future teaching.

Documenting-Evidence-of-Effective-Teaching: A checklist (opens as a PDF)

Move to the next step: Plan Your Teaching Development

Last Modified: Friday, November 10, 2023 5:14 pm

For more information or help, please email the Office for Faculty Excellence or make an appointment with a consultant.

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