this term (e.g., the turnaround time on lab assignments), those that need to wait until the next time the course is offered (e.g., the textbook), and those that cannot, for pedagogical or other reasons, be changed (e.g., content required for subsequent courses). Other ways to respond to advice:

  • From time to time restate and clarify the course's goals and expectations. If changes are to be made, give a brief account of which changes will be made this term and which will be used in future courses.

  • Let students know what they can do as well. For example, if students report that they are often confused, invite them to ask questions more often.

  • Consider making changes to your course or teaching methods based upon the feedback.

Using a Portfolio to Assess Your Course

Faculty members at some colleges and universities are beginning to experiment with teaching portfolios composed of work samples and self-evaluative commentary. A portfolio might include copies of syllabi, assignments, handouts, and teaching notes; copies of students' lab notebooks or assignments; descriptions of steps taken to evaluate and improve one's teaching (such as exchanging course materials with colleagues or using fast-feedback techniques); and information from students (such as student rating forms). Portfolios can also include a statement of your teaching philosophy. Advice on how to put together a portfolio can be found in Edgerton et al. (1991) and Urbach (1992). Less comprehensive than portfolios are self-evaluations that ask faculty to comment on their courses: How satisfied were you with this course? What do you think were the strong points of the course and your teaching? The weak points? What did you find most interesting about this course? Most frustrating? What would you do differently if you taught this course again?


In addition to evaluating your course using the fast-feedback methods or teaching portfolio described above, other powerful methods for evaluating your teaching include formal end-of-term student evaluations, peer review, and videotaping.

Watching Yourself on Videotape

  • What are the specific things I did well?

  • What are the specific things I could have done better?

  • What kept the students engaged?

  • When did students get lost or lose interest?

  • If I could do this session over again, what three things would I change?

  • How would I go about making those changes?

Evaluating Your Own Teaching

Videotaping is one way to view and listen to the class as your students do; you can also observe your students' reactions and responses to your teaching. You can also check the accuracy of your perceptions of how well you teach and identify those techniques that work and those that need improvement. Many schools have professional development offices which can help with taping or assessing the tapes, but informal recording by the instructor can be useful and effective. However, you may want someone from the professional development office to view the tape with you to avoid focusing on your appearance or mannerisms. An experienced evaluator

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