So, I checked the results of my student evaluations today, before looking at my grades for the classes that I took. When I looked at my IP&T 286 (Instructional Technology in Teaching) results, I was pleasantly surprised. It looks like the changes that I’ve made in the course structure made a difference. Students were positive about the course and especially about my teaching. They rated me above the average for the course, department and the university. Of course, I’m always looking for ways to improve and there were a few take-aways from the student comments:
- As I had already surmised, having the students include their three projects in the learning contract during the first week of class was a waste of time; most students didn’t know enough about technology to decide that early.
- Students appreciated the individual attention that they got during class time, but several would have liked a little more structured instruction. I agree that I could have made class time more valuable, especially, for students who had worked ahead on their projects and were finished by the time they came to class.
For my IP&T 301 course (educational psychology) the results were less positive. I still beat the course average, but I was a little below the department and a lot below the university averages. It was my first time teaching the course, so I expect next semester will be better, but I need to think for a while about how to improve my teaching of this course. Here are some of the improvements that I plan to make:
- Student presented lessons made up at least 1/2 of our class time each week. Some students complained that it felt like they were teaching the course instead of me. I think that other students comments validated my emphasis on having students in a teacher education program teach lessons, but I do think that I will cut back on the number of student presentations. Instead of having 3 student presentations per class period, I will have only 2.
- Many students felt that they learned the most from the lessons that they taught, but less from the ones that they observed. This is not surprising, but I need to do a better job helping students plan lessons that require active learning from their peers. One of my colleagues has a very structured lesson plan that she uses with her students with great success. I think that I will require my students to use it as well.
- This semester, I required students to write a response to a case study at the end of each class period. The quality of the responses varied greatly and several students complained that they never were able to get a “perfect ten” on the case study responses. I feel that the case study responses encouraged extrinsic motivation, so I want to do away with them. I think that I want to replace them with a reflection journal, probably kept via a blog. I will let students out of class a few minutes early to give them time to go to the computer lab and post their reflection.
- Some students commented that they didn’t feel that discussion in class went beyond what was covered in the book. I agree. My presentations were based on results from Just in Time Teaching Quizzes and were designed to clear up student misunderstandings. The student presentations that followed frequently covered the same material. Next time, I think I will use student presentations as enrichment activities. To do this, I will have to direct students to outside materials that will lead them beyond what is covered in the book. This means that I need to start collecting such materials now.
- One thing that no students commented on, but that I am fairly certain affects how much the students feel they learned from the class was that the teaching was a little disjointed. I don’t feel that I did a very good job identifying the most important information, mainly because I was teaching the topic for the first time. I want to rely less on the book’s structure and more on the natural groupings between ideas. I’m going to have to spend a lot of time this spring/summer improving my own knowledge of the subject matter.
- Another area of improvement, once I’ve identified what I think are the “big ideas”, is to come up with more engaging learning activities. I want to have an activity in reserve, matched to each formative assessment question that I give on the JiTT quizzes. Then, if students have trouble on an item, I’ll know what activity I want to use to clear up the misunderstanding.
It’s nice to know that I’m starting to get the hang of teaching IP&T 286, but I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me for IP&T 301. If anyone knows of any good resources on Educational Psychology, please pass them along.