Rethinking End-of-Course Evaluations

Credit: iStock.com/Chinnapong
Credit: iStock.com/Chinnapong

Peter Filene, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says that “teaching is only as successful as the learning it produces.” Students bring a certain set of expectations, personalities ,and learning dynamics with them at the beginning of any semester or course. Those elements shape how they learn as much as they shape what they will learn. As professors, we try to meld those factors with course content and delivery to craft a “package” that will have a lasting effect on students, irrespective of their major.

But how do we know whether we are “making the grade”? How do we know whether we have a significant impact on student learning, student growth or students’ thinking? Are we “getting through” to students—altering or shaping their interest in our discipline? Are we, as Professor Filene underscores, producing learning? Let’s take a look.


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One Response

  1. This article has helped me with a graduate course assignment on writing my teaching philosophy/statement. I wanted to include course evaluations in my teaching philosophy, and I am so happy that you addressed the real purpose of assessments. Measuring a student’s comprehension of the material to apply it to their learning goals is much more important than memorization. Thank you!

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