Midterm Evaluations

Exam prepIt doesn’t matter whether you’re a politician, a professor, or a student — midterms are everyone’s favorite thing, right?

Okay, not really. But there’s no particular reason to let them become occasions for stress and dread, either (and there are probably some ways to help keep stress at a minimum, in any case). Why not instead, view midterm evaluations as occasions for growth and improvement?

Such evaluations can provide an opportunity to step back, take a deep breath, and reflect on how things are going. Billie’s written before about the benefits of doing mid-semester teaching evaluations. Like her, I’d like to know what’s working well and what isn’t in time to make changes that might help currently enrolled students.

So, in class today, I’ll be asking my students for input on what’s working well, what isn’t, and what they think we should try. Though of course I can’t guarantee that I’ll incorporate all their suggestions, I’m genuinely interested in what they have to say, and will give it real consideration.

I’ll also be asking my students to evaluate their own class participation thus far (and yes, I stole borrowed this idea from Ryan, who in turn borrowed it from someone else). I won’t be asking for an actual essay from them, but I will ask what participation grade they’d give themselves at this point in the semester, and why.

But it seems to me that the midpoint of the semester is a good time for self-evaluation as well. Accordingly, I’ll be taking some time during fall break to consider how I’m doing with my own goals in teaching and writing, and what steps I might take to improve in those areas.

What about you? Are you conducting midterm evaluations of your students and/or yourself this semester? Let us know in the comments.

[Image by Flickr user LaMenta3 / Creative Commons licensed]

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