Student Perspectives on Teaching Are Necessary

students working college classroom
In higher education, we often think about how we can improve our teaching and learning. If you are like me, you wrestle with this question after a well-prepared lecture does not go as expected, or as you are trying to make sense of your student evaluations, or as a new semester is about to begin. Oftentimes, the answers are not easy or obvious. We may seek out colleagues or experts in our teaching centers, but rarely do these discussions of better teaching include students. Why is this? The people who could most assist us fill our classrooms, but we rarely ask for their thoughts and ideas. When we do, it is for a fleeting ten minutes at the end of a course when we ask them to complete the student evaluations. Even then, we do not hear what they have to say. Instead, sometime later, we try to decipher what they have written in the “suggestions for improvement” box. Then it’s easy to misinterpret their feedback and attribute any criticism as their need to vent their frustrations about the course.

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