Working with Students

Using Your Student Evaluation Data

Happy Day Shiny, Happy Instructors!

You received your mid-semester student evaluation data last week. Have you changed anything in your course based on the data or student comments? In this week's training tip we'll use the National School Reform Faculty's "Data-Driven Dialogue" protocol and the BYU-Idaho Learning Model to make this data relevant and meaningful to your online teaching.

Some of you may have noticed that the reports are new. Here is one part of the new reports:

Student evaluations can be a very good source for helping you identify areas of potential improvement in your teaching and course. Were there data or student comments that surprised you? If so, these are fantastic areas to search for improvements.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we think is effective that we lose sight of what matters to the students. If you find areas for improvement and would like extra mentoring, here are two options:

  1. Teaching Group Leader and colleagues - Your TGL and teaching group colleagues can be a wealth of knowledge and may be positioned very well to provide you with the mentoring you need. Don't be afraid to ask your fellow instructors for advice in the Community--many of them have ideas and best practices that will help you. 

  2. Request a Coach - Our instructor coaches would love to work with you! You can read more about coaching services and request a coach here.

Have you ever had a good experience with implementing change based on student evaluations? What have been some fun or funny students comments that you have received? Are there any questions or information that you think would make the student evaluations more useful? Feel free to share below! 

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  • A few students said I should respond to more posts on the discussion boards.  I was surprised because each week I hit the expected 1/3 of the class.  After digging into it I realized that I was more apt to respond to students who posted early and less likely to respond to students who post right before the deadline.  In response, I'm keeping track of who I respond to and ensuring that I respond to every student at least once every three weeks.

    • Nice Pickup Ryan! One thing that I have noticed is that sometimes it is not hitting the "right number" of announcements, feedback posts, discussion posts, graded assignments etc--but rather that we balance out our responses to everyone, have quality responses, and be aware of when we are completing tasks. Grading all assignments on the 7th day past the due date puts that almost 2 weeks out since our early students finished their work. Posting an "information for the week"announcement on Wed. or Thurs. for the week means that many students won't be helped. Posting only early or only late on DB means many students will miss out on your expertise. 

  • Thank you, Lynn. 

         For my "improvements or suggestions" section, one of my students wrote, "Make sure she is giving adequate time to her family." I thought that was sweet. My feedback includes so much about families and family time, that a student wanted to make sure I was doing the same. 

     After reading their comments, it dawned on me that I give so much feedback on each individual's assignment that it takes away from the time that I want to spend with them in groups on the discussion board. (Darn those interesting papers! :)  Moving forward, I've decided not to make my feedback so long, which will help me complete grading faster and allow me to have more in-depth discussions each week. 

    • Cristi, I am so glad you saw this from your student! They really do care!!! :)  Sometimes when I am focusing on tech. issues or the "problem" students, I forget to enjoy the awesome spirit that so many of our students bring to our classes as they are sacrificing and striving to improve themselves and their family situations.

      It is always a struggle to know how much feedback to give versus time in the discussion boards (and still be fair to ourselves in the hours that we work). Some people balance that issue by focusing more on feedback for bigger projects/assignments and focusing more on discussion boards during "lighter work" weeks. Continue experimenting until you find your sweet spot! There is some pretty good material in the OL 200 Class under "Teaching Practices" that can help give you ideas for making discussion boards even better. 

      • Yes, there is a plethora of good material on here for help on the discussion boards. Thank you.  I am praying to find that "sweet spot" this semester. 

  • This comment from a student did have me raising my eyebrows:

    "I don't feel like I really am being "instructed" just that there is a person that is overseeing this whole thing like how a person looks in on an ant colony and observes our work."

    Hmm . . . So what is the 1 thing I could to improve, based on that comment? Should I aim for more instruction, or less observing of the ants hard at work? :)

    • Ha!! Love it. I imagine your question was rhetorical, but I just have to say this: the wisdom you seek already lies within ;)  

      Since you are giving instruction, why are they not noticing it? You could give more instruction, in more places, in more ways. You could just come out and tell them what you are doing. Or you could also realize that not all comments are actionable. I still have not figured out a way to respond to all the "Sister Durtschi is great!" comments that I get! :)

      This reminded me about Gulliver's Travels for some reason. He did earn the trust of the Lilliputians eventually. He put out a fire in the royal apartments and saved them from the naval attack. So maybe just save your students from accidents (like quiz or assignments that are set up wrong) or protect them from destruction (or a low grade) by clearing up confusion. I am not suggesting that our students are Lilliputians nor am I suggesting that we take Gulliver's approach to fire suppression! :) 

  • I am so grateful for the mid-term reviews. I am one who likes feedback; online it is much more difficult to get that from students. One thing I have done is STOP using the audio feedback option. Students never said anything, but they clearly didn't like it due to the problems that technology is experiencing. I felt so badly when I read "I don't listen to the audio feedback because there is too much background noise and I have to play it so loud to hear what is said, it hurts my ears." The other thing I am doing is saying a lot more "good job" or putting in a graphic to say that. For "perfectly done" work, I use something like:


    • Hi Karen!

      Thank you so much for sharing some of your experiences with the student evaluations! Encouraging students can be really helpful. When saying "good job", it is also important to include why it was a good job. Generic praise can actually be detrimental to the student experience. I had never thought about including a graphic....That is a pretty cool idea. Maybe I can find some internet fist bumps or blue ribbon pictures etc...hmmm.... That deserves the Panda of the Day Award!

      Interesting about your audio feedback issues. The audio feedback button is problematic and should not be used. However, an alternative could be the video note feature. I would submit an assignment as a test student, then give feedback, and then listen to the feedback to see if the sound is okay or not. 

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