Saturday, April 19, 2008

What Happens to Evaluations of Profs When Profs Make Students Teach Themselves? Depressed Delmar Wants to Know.

So I'm trying this cooperative-learning stuff in my class. I've rebuilt my entire intro science course into a team-learning model, and it's been really successful from my point of view as the instructor--students are learning more, and applying it at a more sophisticated level, than I've ever seen in this course. I've read up on this stuff, been to workshops, seminars and talks, and I'm using best practices. I work hard at this. And I am a very effective teacher.

And yet: they're over there doing their course evals right now, and I suspect I'm going to get slaughtered, because so many of them would just rather have someone stand at the front of the room and drone at them--whether they learn anything or not, whether they make good grades or not--than have to read the material and have a conversation about it. "She never actually teaches us anything, I have to learn everything myself, I had to read the book to learn anything, I had to study more for this class than for any of my other classes" is what I'll get, over and over again.

For my part (and while I'm actually qualified to have an opinion about what makes for effective, deep learning, most of them are not) I actually take those comments as positive feedback rather than negative. I mean, whether or not they realize it now, that's a big part of what I'm trying to teach them: that ultimately we have to learn everything ourselves. But because they think that having to read, discuss, digest, synthesize, and form a complete sentence from time to time are undesirable things, they also give me the crappy crappy numbers. (Some of them even go so far as to check "no" of "never" or "disagree" on things like whether I passed out a syllabus the first day; clearly they don't realize that when they check "no" to something on which 147 other students check "yes," they just look like idiots.)

Maybe it won't be that bad, I'm just depressed because of how shitty this system is. I fucking hate evaluation time.