Mid-term and formative evaluations have virtually exploded in popularity among enlightened educators in the recent years. To better understand how a few, simple questions can have such a big impact on teaching practices, we sat out on a mission to find the main reasons. By interviewing educators and examining related literature, we found 5 outstanding reasons why educators hold mid-term evaluation surveys in such high regard.
Among the educators we talked to, the (by far) most popular alternative for collecting mid-term feedback was a short survey with 3 or 4 open-ended questions. Occasionally we found someone using a different approach, but the foundation of this study is built around short surveys.
1. Informal and independent from administration.
Mid-term evaluations are low-stake in the sense that the teacher often both issue the evaluation, as well as reviewing the results themselves. That removes a big hardship of getting ‘low scores’, and focus can instead be aimed at finding ways to understand feedback and coming up with ways to improve.
Mid-term evaluations are conducted when there is still time to make adjustments to the current class. Research has shown that teachers who regularly conduct mid-term evaluations and acts upon feedback also get significantly higher end-course evaluations.
The two main reasons for that are:
- Mid-term evaluations produce highly qualitative data.
- Feedback-driven changes can be implemented directly.
End-course evaluations fill a multitude of functions from evaluating teachers for promotional and tenure decisions to college endorsement purposes. What initially started out as a way for teachers to receive feedback on practices has unfortunately grown into a way for the administration to rank teachers by satisfaction scores.
Mid-term evaluations have one purpose and one purpose only — to provide teachers with highly qualitative feedback on teaching practices. Yale University has found that administering evaluations mid-course generally produce a higher quality feedback than end-course evaluations and recommends all their educators to issue them regularly.
4. Qualitative, anonymous, and quick.
Looking for straight answers from an honest crowd?
Make respondents anonymous.
Looking for informative and constructive feedback?
Go with open-ended questions.
One of the main strengths with mid-course evaluations is that they are most often composed of a few overall questions. This approach regularly produces top-of-mind- suggestions on how to improve teaching on a micro-behavioural level rather than a blurry numerical value that is trying to describe a whole course.
The combination of administering evaluations during mid-term when the workload is low and a small number of questions are also favourable from the students’ perspective and promotes high response rates.
5. Professional development at a higher pace.
As opposed to end-course evaluations, changes can still be made to the same class you collect feedback from. That means you can try ways to improve teaching capabilities, follow up and ask whether things improved or not, and learn from results. All within one single semester.
That’s simply not possible with end-course evaluations.
When building your teaching experience, it’s important to quickly understand what works and what doesn’t and learn from that.
Those are the five main reasons why educators should embrace mid-term evaluations as if their entire careers depend solely on them.
A most striking insight from our investigation was the unanimous agreement of what the downside of mid-term evaluations is:
The attached workload.
Some lecturers we talked to were teaching introductory college courses with well over 300 students. Say a student writes on average a 20-word long response per question. That adds up to 80 words per evaluation. Multiplied by 300 equals 24.000 words, or about 48 A4 papers full of feedback.
Digging down to the juicy stuff in your evaluations still takes commitment and stubbornness even if you’re not teaching 300 students. As always, with qualitative data, the main setback is the manual labour needed to analyze data, which is unfortunate enough for many educators to either skip open-ended questions or worse; not read the responses.
However, there is a solution to this dilemma that is gaining strong momentum.
Colleges and universities around the world are starting to explore how text analytics can be used for student feedback.
Intrigued? Get the report and find out how it works and how it can be used.
Article originally posted at: http://blog.hubert.ai/5-great-aspects-of-mid-term-evaluations/