Thursday, November 7, 2013

They've given me a number but they've taken 'way my name (Devo)

I'm not a huge fan of student appraisals of teachers.

The concept is that students give quality, objective feedback to teachers about their teaching.

With me so far? Sounds cool huh?

Students are of course entitled to pass judgement on teachers - that's happened since the days of the Roman Empire when Plato and Socrates handed out appraisal tablets to their students.

So what's my problem?

It's just that the feedback tends to be wildly subjective but considered scientific and therefore 'important'. If it's positive it can often be platitudinous (you're the most wonderful teacher in the world) and if it's negative it often comes from a severely narrow experience base or worse, hidden agendas come into play and it becomes largely unusable.

I would rather the appraisal was of the course and dispensed with the cult of personality as much as possible.
I gave out some appraisal forms to a couple of randomly chosen classes this week and the customary things happened - I dwelt on the one negative comment much more than I should have until I noticed the student rated highly the 'I enjoy this class' statement, and I quickly moved over the 'I love your teaching' comments.

The next stage for me personally is to try to highlight any areas that the girls thought I needed to work on. I then want to refine my appraisal form to get some more specific information that I can use to improve my teaching and that's after all what the process should be about. 


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