Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Reflections on Evaluations

I got my teaching evaluations this week. I was actually pretty happy with them and not particularly surprised by any of the comments -- even the negative ones. I suppose that is a good thing. The evaluations give me a boost going into the new semester, especially since I am teaching a course that is not in my area of expertise.

The other thing the evaluations did was cause me to reflect on what a meaningful and authentic assessment of student work really looks like. What is the purpose of a weekly reflection? Is it to gauge if the students have read? Because if that is why I do it, then it isn't meaningful or authentic. Also, is writing a paper a good activity? I have to wonder; because if each student writes on a different topic, how do I really measure how much and what they have learned from the course?

This semester I am having students engage in one of three debates and I will have a take-home final. That doesn't seem like a lot of work to me. But I suppose if the exercises are meaningful to students then they serve their purpose. On the upside, that leaves me a lot less to grade! But I don't want to lessen the number or intensity of assignments simply because it means less work for me...this is about students and their learning. I have some more thinking to do . . .

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