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Benefits of Talking with Students about Mid-Course Evaluations

I t takes a certain amount of courage to talk with students about course evaluation results. I’m thinking here more about formative feedback the teacher solicits during the course, as opposed to what’s officially collected when it ends. Despite how vulnerable revealing results can make a teacher feel, there are some compelling reasons to have these conversations and a powerful collection of benefits that may result from doing so.

We so need to re-write the end-of-course ratings story. Most of the time, it eloquently demonstrates how feedback should not be solicited, given, or received. The story students need to hear is one where teacher and students share and respond to feedback that describes how learning is happening in a course. That story begins during the course, not at its end. It solicits descriptive information about specific aspects of the course, not global evaluations. The results are shared, discussed, and acted upon collectively, and now we’re on the way to a story with a happy ending.

Note: my thinking about these reasons was first prompted by this article: Caulfield, J. (2007). What motivates students to provide feedback to teachers about teaching and learning: An expectancy theory perspective. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 1 (1), 1-13.

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