Continuous, high-quality feedback is essential to improving one’s craft as an instructor. In addition to students’ end-of-semester evaluations, I have requested a Teaching Analysis Poll (TAP) be conducted in every class that I have taught since my second semester here. CFI TAP consultants visit my class about the sixth or seventh week of every semester.
- It focuses students on learning (as opposed to grades) and gets them thinking about their own meta-cognition, or the ways in which they learn best
- I communicates to the students that I care about their learning
- It offers the opportunity for mid-course corrections which are not possible if student feedback comes only at the end of the semester
- It solicits feedback from students who otherwise wouldn’t take the time to send me email or approach me during office hours to let me know about things that aren’t going well for them in a class
For professors, the TAP process also has benefits:
- I get rich and meaningful feedback (as opposed to the poor feedback resulting from end-of-semester evaluations) directly from students at a time that they really care.
- I get feedback that is completely unattached to my annual performance or tenure/promotion review, and as such, I’m able to accept it without fear that it will result in a negative appraisal of me by my peers or administrators.
- It brings me closer to students and really helps me tailor an experience to their needs, and also allows me to spend more time explaining parts of my pedagogy that haven’t quite understood or adapted to.
- It reminds me that I am not perfect, nor have I figured out all of the answers as to how to create the highest possible quality learning experience for my students. As such, it motivates me to work harder for them.
Here are some of the specific ways in which I think the TAPs have influenced my teaching:
- Providing timely feedback has been an issue for me. As a result of my TAPs, I have begun incorporating feedback into weekly classroom time, so now my students receive feedback within minutes of the time an assignment is due because we grade assignments collaboratively in class on the due date. This not only provides quick feedback but helps students develop a strong sense for the difference between high and low quality work when they compare their own work to their peers’ work.
- I have increased my efforts to provide high-quality online resources for my students such as websites and videos.
- I have maintained my commitment to conducting hacking sessions.
- I have increased the amount of class time I spend doing hands-on coding tutorials and the quantity of examples that I provide for students.
- I give students more freedom to choose projects that they will be interested in completing