Designing and Assessing Your Course

Assessing your course is a critical way for faculty to find areas of improvement in the design and execution of their courses. Below you will find resources that may help find strategies to better evaluate and design your courses.

Writing Feedback Surveys to Assess Your Course

Our Yale-NUS College Centre for Teaching and Learning is happy to help you with mid-semester assessments. We have already installed a set of five field-tested surveys on all of the faculty Canvas sites, which can be set up and deploy with just a few mouse clicks. We have worked with Education, Resources and Technology (ERT) to develop a guide on how to publish mid-semester surveys, which should provide you step-by-step instructions on how to set up these surveys on Canvas.

Below are a few other examples of surveys you might find useful:

Strategies for Conducting Student Evaluations

Overview: Gives a good step-by-step bird’s eye view of how the process could be conducted. Also provides interesting resources (‘Instructor Perspective’ below) where a professor shares personal feelings and thoughts going through each stage e.g. processing students’ negative criticisms.

Conducting Early Course evaluations: An early-bird option if you prefer feedback earlier than mid-term, or who want to do an earlier round of feedback prior to mid-terms. Conducting early course evaluations, choosing an evaluation form, sample evaluation forms PDF, organising student feedback, interpreting student feedback, discussing student feedback with the class.

Figuring out teaching goals: It is difficult to track how well goals have been achieved without knowing what those goals are in the first place. This questionnaire is a tool to help you figure out and tabulate the teaching goals that are important. Comparison of results with a sample of teachers and the results of the discipline as a whole are available too.

Figuring out teaching perspectives: Similar to the Teaching Goals Inventory, except this tool focuses on helping you become more mindful and cognizant about your teaching ideals, and perspectives.

Other Informal Assessment Methods

If formal assessments aren’t your thing, here are a set of quick and informal exercises or tools you can have your students do to achieve the same objectives. These Informal Assessment methods, called Critical Assessment Techniques (CATs) are designed to engage students in their learning process by conferring them active roles in informing the what is taught and how teaching is carried out.

Making Learning Active

  • Identify the Muddiest Point: Instructors can ask students to write a short note about which part of a lesson made the least sense to them and why.
  • Student-Generated Test Questions: Students can be assigned into groups, each addressing a topic in an upcoming test, to generate potential test questions. Instructors can choose the best questions from each group, so that every student will feel familiar with at least part of the test for which they are preparing.
  • Student Report Groups: Instructors can call upon volunteers to meet in a small group on a regular basis to provide feedback and ideas on how the class is proceeding.
  • Exam Evaluations: A few questions can be included at the end of a test that asks students to rate how successfully the test evaluates their knowledge or skills.
  • Suggestion Boxes: A box can be left in the front of the classroom into which students can drop notes expressing issues they might have with the class.

Enhancing Content Retention

  • One-Minute Papers: Provide students with a short questionnaire at the end of class that asks students to describe their most and least favourite things about the day’s class.
  • Chain Notes: Pass an envelope around and have each student submit a question about the class content. These questions can be addressed in later lesson plans.
  • Journals: Require students to keep journals to record thoughts and feelings on the class. These can be used to evaluate student attitudes on class content, perceptions of the importance of what they are learning, and comprehension of course material.

Extracted from Online Universities blog

What to do after collecting feedback

A series of articles available online and in PDF where professors share their own personal experience and strategies when collecting and processing student evaluations.

How I Read My Student Evaluations by Cedar Reiner

Key points. Interpretation strategies for reading student evaluations. Personal sharing of psychological process when taking in feedback. Framing tips prior to evaluation exercise to invite candid, considerate and constructive responses.

Taking Stock: Evaluations from Students by Robert F. Bruner

Key points. Things to have in mind and look out for while processing gathered feedback e.g. cross sectional patterns, trends etc. How to consolidate ideas and suggestions gathered and come up with an action plan.

The “Course Evaluation Follow-up” Form by Cheryl Krueger

Key points. Handy form to have for lecturers to consolidate experience with the course and to reflect on the overall process.

Using Mid-Semester Evaluations to Encourage Active Learning by Carey Sargent

Key points. Touches on how you can use collected feedback to have a conversation with students about making adjustments to the course at the halfway mark, addressing issues and trends in the classroom, about assignments etc.

Books on Designing and Assessing your Course

The following books are available in the Yale-NUS library for faculty seeking further information about designing and assessing their courses.

Author(s) Title Publisher ISBN
Stavredes, Tina; Herder, Tiffany A Guide to Online Course Design: Strategies for Student Success Jossey-Bass 9781118462669
Blumberg, Phyllis Assessing and Improving Your Teaching: Strategies and Rubrics for Faculty Growth and Student Learning Jossey-Bass 9781118275481
Smith, Robin M. Conquering the Content: A Step-by-Step Guide to Online Course Design Jossey-Bass 9780787994426
Klaus, Carl H., Jones, Nancy Courses for Change in Writing: A Selection from the NEH/Iowa Institute Boynton/Cook Publishers 867091215
Fink, L. Dee Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An integrated Approach to Designing College Courses Jossey-Bass 9780787960551
Fink, L. Dee Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An integrated Approach to Designing College Courses (Revised & Updated) Jossey-Bass 9781118124253
Caulfield, Jay How to Design and Teach a Hybrid Course Stylus Publishing 9781579224233
O’Brien, Judith Grunert; Millis, Barbara J.; Cohen, Margaret W. The Course Syllabus: A Learning-Centered Approach – Second Edition Jossey-Bass 9780470197615
Wiggins, Grant; McTighe, Jay Understanding by Design, Expanded Edition Pearson 9780131950849

(This summary was prepared by Hai Guang Lian, Dean’s Fellow working with the Yale-NUS College Centre for Teaching and Learning, with minor contributions by Bryan Penprase, CTL Director)