Sunday, July 12, 2015
Knowing Why They Know
- my completely unscientific guess, given what I have learned from the literature, is that students are relatively good at…
- identifying teaching that helps them learn. They’re not so great at understanding “why” that teacher helped them learn…
- so in the qualitative comments, they’re reaching for things to explain their intuition. And when doing this…
- they likely think in gendered ways (in both directions). This would explain why numbers seem less gendered, at least.
More personally, I wish I could figure out why my evals are almost always higher in the spring than in the fall (I've only had one academic year that didn't follow this pattern, where the fall numbers were abnormally high). I don't think I'm a better or worse teacher in either semester, but my students clearly do.
For me, the problem is that if numbers don't lie, but students can't explain what those numbers really mean, how am I supposed to use them to improve my teaching?
Apropos what Sapience wrote @8:53pm, my evals seem to correlate only with how energetic I felt in a particular class in a particular semester (usually load related) and how well they are doing (retention rate).
I'd suggest that Sapience take a look at some well known variables: when does the class meet, did the class fill early, how academically prepared are the students, and did they pick YOU over an alternative prof. Any of those could have a fall-spring variation. They are less likely to rate your work highly if they don't want to be in one of those Death Valley afternoon sections.
My grad school also used an online system and had an interesting incentive for getting students to take the time to respond. If you submitted evaluations for all of your classes by the end of final exams, you were automatically given access to the data and comments, which could be sorted by professor or by course, early enough before the following semester that you had time to add/drop/swap sections based on the data. There may have been some minimum number of a times a professor or course had to be rated before they appeared in the database to account for the reliability issues with small data sets.
Is this only at the 3 schools I've been at?
That is a common problem. It is almost pointless for a male professor to provide advice on certain teaching situations, because what is interpreted as appropriate (and effective) behavior by a man is considered bitchy by a woman.
Apart from the usual issues of misogyny, some of this probably originates in K-12 where women are seen as lower level teachers who need a Teacher's Edition to be able to know the correct answers to student questions, not professionals.
Sapience @9:38pm -
I guess you just have to ignore all of my observations. Maybe they are just happier in the spring!