The class climate survey (called OMETs here at Pitt) just arrived in my inbox today. I admit I was pretty nervous to read these, but I am pretty pleased with the results, including some of the feedback about improvements my students gave me. (These things really DO help me as a teacher.) And the positive feedback was encouraging.
As always seems to happen when I teach, many more people expected an A than got one. I’m not quite sure why this happens. Maybe I’m too happy? But none of them emailed to complain, so …
What helps me most is spotting patterns. There will always be students who say, “Less reading please” (not gonna happen), or who come up with a comment out of nowhere. But when several thoughtful students address more or less the same thing, then it tells me it’s something I should think about.
For example, in this course there were a lot of in-class writing exercises. They weren’t graded. You handed them in, I checked them off, and gave them back. Occasionally I would scribble something in the margins, but I didn’t scrutinize it too intensely, because I didn’t want my students to feel that I was evaluating them via these assignments.
However, on the survey, many students wrote that they wished I’d given them more feedback on those exercises.
They also wanted to write and workshop more than one short story, which I would have loved to do as well–but it wasn’t really possible in a summer course. That’s another thing I have to take into account when reading these comments: some very legitimate issues are brought up that are, I think, inherent to a six week class.
My favorite complaints:
“Refrain from having [the class] in a room the temperature of Siberia.”
“Put us in a warm classroom!”
And finally: “Maybe just that she’s young? IDK. That’s the best I could come up with.”