In Fall 2016, I did my first Informal Early Feedback (IEF) evaluations after attending a workshop on IEF at the Center for Innovation in teaching and learning.
I was terrified when I gave them the link to my feedback form. I had had a peer review at a summer job one year, and the feedback I got was so scathing that I was deeply afraid of my insecurities as a new teacher being validated by student feedback. I was scared - so much so that I recorded this screenshot in my teaching journal:
After being reassured by my peers and my colleagues that students really aren't harsh, I finally looked at my feedback and was surprised and pleased to have gotten largely positive feedback. Thirteen students had submitted the survey, evenly distributed across my two lab sections. The big number (the one the university rates us on) was TA’s overall teaching effectiveness: 4.2. I knew I had room to improve.
What really helped me identify ways to improve was sitting down and talking through the summary of the student feedback below with Lucas, a CITL expert. We discussed the negative feedback and ways to make the classroom more engaging. The suggestions I implemented immediately were to validate student questions before responding, for example, "good question" or "It's really good that you asked that". To engage students, I shortened the mini-lecture I had been giving at the beginning of the class, and start walking around the classroom to ask students what they were doing, instead of just waiting for people to ask questions.
I presented these findings to students in class the following week.
Please explain (good things TA does, things you think would improve TA effectiveness, things that hinder TA’s effectiveness, etc)
making us figure out problems on our own
getting to all questions (classroom management)
speaks loudly and clearly
double checks if you understand
explain thought process
makes me feel like the question I asked was poor
answer questions more directly
remind of old terms/skills
About your TA (overall: 4.3)
On a scale of 1 (disagree strongly) to 5 (agree strongly)
4.7 The TA is enthusiastic
4.2 The TA’s explanations are clear
4.3 The TA effectively uses time during lab
4.5 The TA is available for questions
4.5 The TA provides adequate instructions for proceeding with the lab exercises
4.4 TA’s ability to answer questions
3.9 TA’s awareness of how well you understand the lab material (med 4)
4.2 TA’s office hours (med 4)
What is helping you learn in this lab section? How would you improve the lab sessions?
• Would like to watch someone do work
• Prefer more work time (2) More time in lab for lab assignments (independent work)
• Prefer less presentation/lecture (2)
• Helpful to do more tasks on the board
• Learn a lot; wouldn’t change (2) • Determination and patience
• Hard to work with background noise – quieter space (2)
• Would be great do review skills, not do each task once in the book
• Tutorials helpful
Level of effort (overall: 4.4)
4.3 Level of effort you put into the course (med 4)
4.5 Level of effort you put into in-class exercises