|Learning and Teaching in Practice|
|Module 4: Planning, delivering and critiquing a teaching session|
|Critiquing a session||Introduction | Evaluation methods | Summary|
When critiquing a teaching session, as well as self-evaluation, it's crucial to include feedback from others in our reflection - this ensures our critique reflects more than just our own assumptions! In an earlier topic, Facilitation methods, we used feedback from peer observation (teaching observation) as a source of data. For this topic, you are also asked to reflect on the teaching observation feedback using the reflective guide section (page 4) in the Full Teaching Observation template.
In this topic, we also look at methods for gathering feedback from the learners. They are usually a primary source of feedback (along with peers) when evaluating a single teaching session or series of teaching sessions. Obtaining feedback from learners on teaching sessions is generally done differently compared to the formal evaluations of courses and the performance of teachers, required by organisations. You are advised to investigate how formal course and teaching evaluations in your organisation are carried out.
Evaluation methods can also gather feedback from other stakeholders, especially when evaluating a whole programme or course during annual review, or design, development and implementation. These methods of evaluation will be covered in the last module.
Formal and informal evaluation
The purpose of the evaluation determines whether it will be formal or informal. Formal evaluations of teaching are usually used as indicators of performance, either for annual review purposes or for professional advancement. They take some time to set up and involve collecting specific data and analysis of it for formal reporting. In contrast, informal evaluation of your teaching sessions can be done quickly and the information you gather is for your use only. It can give you a quick indication of what is going well or not working for students, allowing you to improve matters. For example, if the approach you used in class did not help them to understand the concepts you covered, then you will have to try something different.
- Formal evaluations
These can include teacher observations as well as course evaluations and teacher evaluations where feedback is gathered from students using specific organisational methods. These are usually summative evaluations as they are done at the end of a course.
If you introduce a new teaching method or implement an innovation, you will most likely want to gather formal evaluation data so that you can report on the success of your approach. This could be done during the course (formative) or at the end (summative). A tertiary practitioner's guide to collecting evidence of learner benefit, published by Ako Aotearoa, is particularly useful for planning formal evaluation of teaching.
Gathering formal feedback will be useful for developing your portfolio in this course. This will take the form of a teacher observation, and formal feedback from learners who participate in a session that you facilitate. For example, you might gather feedback about a presentation that you give to the class.
Formal feedback can be gathered using a number of methods:
- open-ended structured questions (asked in class or on a discussion forum or email) - qualitative;
- surveys (paper or online) - Likert-type scales - quantitative - with or without open-ended questions;
- focus groups (discussion of specific items); and
- interviews - group or individual (unstructured or structured questions).
- Informal evaluations
Gathering feedback for improving our teaching practice can be time-consuming for learners. So less formal methods for gathering quick feedback at the end of a session or activity are worth considering. These are generally formative since the data you gather will inform the next session of teaching.
- At the end of the session, the teacher displays a few simple questions, each labelled (e.g, A, B, C etc). These might be displayed on a real or virtual whiteboard, or as a PowerPoint slide. Sample questions:
- A. What was most helpful for you in this session?
- B. What was least helpful for you in this session?
- C. Overall, how effective was the session in helping you understand? Rate from 1 (very unhelpful) to 5 (very helpful).
- Learners record the question label and a response - this could be on a slip of paper which is left in a collection box on the way out, sent as a text message to a mobile number, or provided via if these are in use.
- Stop, Start, Continue is another example of how to gather informal feedback.
- A quick survey on a course blog can be conducted at any time during a course to obtain learners' feedback about specific components of your teaching sessions.
Although informal methods can be quick and effective for evaluating a single session, they do not usually provide in-depth information on teaching effectiveness. For the purposes of your critique as part of your portfolio, we recommend you use a more formal method such as survey or group process.
Surveys comprise a set of questions, often including some multiple choice and ratings (e.g., 1 to 5) as well as open questions. Because surveys take some time to complete, they are not often used for evaluating single sessions. However, they can be useful when we wish to look in depth at single session - as is the case for your portfolio.
Surveys may be on paper or online. But note that most (for example, Moodle's Survey tool) are more suitable for evaluation of a whole course rather than a single session.
Groups methods usually take the form of a focus group, group discussion or a facilitated structured process such as Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID). Check out Ferris State University's.
A key advantage of group methods such as SGID is that they can provide in-depth qualitative feedback on what has worked well and not so well. However, they tend to be time-consuming and generally require an independent person other than the teacher to facilitate the group process.
While not usually used for evaluating a single session, an SGID or other group process could be very useful in providing in-depth data for your own critique.