The PLaCE Team regularly receives emails from MQ colleagues asking about various aspects of learning and teaching. Our usual practice is to discuss these at a team meeting, collate our responses, and send them back to the questioner. This year, we’re sharing these Qs – & our As – more widely.
Q I’m looking for some informal ways to evaluate my teaching practice other than just using results from LET and LEU surveys. What would you suggest?
A Here are our suggestions for different approaches to gathering feedback from students, peers and colleagues, and for undertaking some self-evaluation (reflection).
Feedback from students
Informal student feedback can be useful in helping hone our teaching abilities and approaches. Students, when given the chance to provide anonymous feedback, are often excellent (albeit occasionally confronting) sources of insight into our teaching styles.
Collecting feedback anonymously encourages honesty. By considering and addressing the concerns and suggestions raised by our students, we can enhance our teaching practices.
A few approaches to try:
Minute papers are a simple and effective way to get feedback from students on their learning – and on your teaching. It’s a series of short written responses to one or more prompts, that students complete at the end of a lesson, usually in one or two minutes. They are easy to implement and don’t require much time to prepare. Read more about using Minute papers on TECHE.
Exit Tickets can be used to quickly gauge students’ understanding and progress at the end of a lesson. Before they exit the class, ask them to provide a brief response to a question, problem, or what they’ve learned. This helps you assess their comprehension and plan for future lessons. Similar to minute paper but can focus specific aspects of the class, e.g. “what worked for you in this class and what didn’t?”
Consider introducing a suggestion box. Students can be encouraged to drop in anonymous notes with their thoughts, suggestions, or concerns about the unit or your teaching methods. During class, ask students for immediate feedback on specific activities, discussions, or assignments. It could be done anonymously via online tools.
Self-assessment and Peer review of teaching
Inviting a colleague to observe aspects of your teaching and provide feedback can clarify strengths, surface the blind spots (we all have them!) or get us to think about our teaching in a new light.
A few approaches to try:
Self-assess your teaching practice
Use this checklist of ingredients for good practice in teaching (Word doc) to self-assess your own teaching practice. How do you rate yourself on (i) explaining and presenting content; (ii) facilitating activities; (iii) clarifying misconceptions, answering questions, and providing feedback on student performance and (iv) creating interest and maintaining student motivation?
Self-assess against the PLaCE framework for teaching development
The PLaCE self-assessment tool is designed to help you reflect on your current capabilities and identify areas for developing your teaching practice across the five domains of the Professional Learning and Capability Enhancement (PLaCE) Framework. There are a set of questions to answer and then you will be provided with useful resources to enhance your capability across each domain.
Participate in the Open for Observation program
Open your classroom and allow colleagues to observe your live class as part of Macquarie’s Open for Observation program. You could consider asking the observer to provide you with some focused or general feedback and then meet for an informal chat afterwards to hear their reflections.
Our team is always available to attend classes upon request, providing feedback and engaging in reflective discussions afterward. Don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Sometimes we need another pair of eyes to see what we ourselves can’t see.Comment from Open for Observation participant.
Peer review of teaching is a valuable approach for evaluating and obtaining feedback on aspects of your teaching including classroom performance, iLearn site, assessment tasks, unit guides, teaching materials, curriculum design and mapping etc. It offers opportunities for learning, critical reflection and mentoring.
This Peer Review of Teaching Handbook provides support for staff intending to engage in peer review of teaching.
Reflect on your own practice
It’s helpful to regularly reflect on your teaching practice, considering both successes and areas for improvement. It doesn’t have to be done alone. Sometimes the best reflections are over a coffee or lunch with a colleague.
Try the Seeking clarity exercise on page 14 of this MQ Reflection for Learning resources handbook.
Access the complete range of Reflection for Learning videos.
Record your teaching sessions and review them
With tools like Echo360 it’s easier than ever to record one of your own classes and then critically and objectively review it. Watching yourself teaching is often eye-opening and can lead to long-term improvements. Yes, it feels awkward at first, but it’s worth it! Our perceptions of ourselves are often not what we do in teaching.
You can watch an Echo360 recording of your lecture and it’s especially easy to obtain recordings from Zoom classes.
Further reading and resources
- Informal evaluation methods quick guide (PDF) – Find out what students think of your unit using methods other than the end of session surveys.
- Evidencing your teaching quick guide (PDF) – A summary of quantitative and qualitative data sources from within and beyond the classroom you can use to evidence your teaching practice:
- 15 ways to evidence your teaching at university (Teche Blog post)
- Visit this series of ‘Over a cuppa’ TECHE posts on reflection for learning and teaching.
Also see these resources for actioning evaluation from formal methods (TEDS surveys):
- Actioning evaluation quick guide (PDF)
- Mythbusting the reporting of Learner Evaluation of Unit surveys (Teche Blog post)
- Actioning the results of LEU surveys (Teche Blog post)