Feedback From Students Becomes A Campus Staple, But Some Go Further

Friday, March 30, 2012
Every other Monday, right before class ends, Muhammad Zaman, a Boston University biomedical engineering professor, hands out a one-page form asking students to anonymously rate him and the course on a scale of one to five. It asks more, too: “How can the professor improve your learning of the material?” “Has he improved his teaching since the last evaluation? In particular, has he incorporated your suggestions?” “How can the material be altered to improve your understanding of the material?” “Anything else you would like to convey to the professor?” College learning assessments and professorial ratings come in many forms, with new ones popping up all the time. Ratemyprofessors.com has been going strong for years, and almost everywhere, colleges ask students to fill out end-of-term evaluations — and increasingly, midterm evaluations as well. Many professors with large lecture classes swear by clickers that help them keep tabs on how well their students are following the material. Some online courses include dashboards that let professors see which students are stuck, and where. And thousands of professors use some variation of K. Patricia Cross’s “One-Minute Paper” approach, in which, at the end of each class, students write down the most important thing they learned that day — and the biggest question left unanswered.

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