Student rating of teaching effectiveness

Bribed by the offer of extra credit, 85 of my 99 students filled in the course questionnaire. The students are asked to rate things on a scale from 1 (staggeringly bad) to 7. The emerging frequency histograms (with mean score) look like this:

STRE 2011 v3.jpgHaving studied more than my fair share of these sort of scores while on Faculty Promotion and Tenure committees, I am moderately pleased with these, especially given than my audience is neutral to hostile at the start. It is gratifying that most of the students consider that I know stuff and want to get it across. I am also pleased that 2/3 of the students rated the overall quality of the course as 6 or 7.
But two questions are actually important. ‘Rate the extent to which interest in the subject matter was generated by this course’, and ‘Rate the importance of the knowledge learned in this course’. Scores for both are a bit disappointing, but at least only five of the students reported less than average interest-generation. More worrying is that barely half the students rated the ‘importance of the knowledge learned’ as 6 or 7. 
But I’d like to ask them that question again after ten years. I suspect it’s too early for students to know.
Students had various other things to say too…..

Predictably, the most common complaint was about the difficulty of my tests.  
Otherwise, several minority views surprised me in the SRTE comments.   
1. Force us to be more self-disciplined. Some students want more frequent assignments, weekly deadlines, written marked homework etc. My reaction: the real world is way less structured. Time to take a grip folks.
2. Abandon the blog and go for class projects and essays. My reaction: Yawn.
3.  Why should I have to spend a semester trying to figure out the professor’s way of thinking?  My reaction: that’s the point of University.
There were also a couple of excellent suggestions:
  • Give extra credit for full attendance.
  • Throw in some pop quizzes that focus on previous material discussed in class.

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