By Doug Ward
Let’s peer into the future – the near future, as in next semester. Or maybe the semester after that.
You’ll be teaching the same course that is wrapping up this week, and you’ll want to make some changes to improve student engagement and learning. Maybe some assignments tanked. Maybe you need to rearrange some elements to improve the flow of the course. Maybe you need to give the course a full makeover. By the time the new semester rolls around, though, the previous one will be mostly a blur.
So why not take a few minutes now to reflect on the semester? While you’re at it, why not solicit feedback from students?
To help, here are 20 questions to ask yourself and your students. This isn’t an exhaustive list. Rather, it’s a way to think about what you’ve accomplished (or haven’t) and how you can do better.
Learning and assessment
- Are students learning what you want them to learn?
- What proof do you have of student learning, and are you using that proof to improve your course?
- How could you deepen student learning?
Use of class time
- How well did you use in-class time, and how could you improve?
- How engaged were your students this semester, and how could you improve engagement next time?
- If you are still mostly lecturing in class, why haven’t you adopted active learning?
- How could you improve out-of-class assignments to help students better prepare for class time?
- What assignments or discussion topics worked best?
- Which ones flopped? Why?
- How might you improve the way you use Blackboard or other online resources?
Some questions to ask your students
I also like to spend time talking with students about the class. Sometimes I do that as a full class discussion. Other times, I use small groups. Either way, I ask some general questions about the semester:
- What worked or didn’t work in helping you learn?
- What would help next time?
- How has your perspective changed since the beginning of the class?
- What will you take away from the course?
- How did the format of the class affect your learning and your motivation?
Sometimes students don’t have answers right away, so I encourage them to provide feedback in the self-evaluations I ask them to write, or in their course evaluations.
I promised 20 questions, so I’ll end with one more: What questions would you add to the list?
Doug Ward is an associate professor of journalism and the associate director of the Center for Teaching Excellence. You can follow him on Twitter @kuediting.