October was a busy month for educational development at the CFC for Excellence in Teaching and Learning as we provided one of our primary teaching and learning services: a Quick Course Diagnostic for 16 different courses across the university with class sizes ranging from under 18 to over 200 and faculty in every stage of their career. It can be hard to know how to meet your students where they are at. Sometimes the only indication there is a problem can be an apparent lack of engagement in the classroom or poor performance on assignments. Is this the student? Is it the course? Is it the teacher? It can be hard to tell, which is why the Coulter Faculty Commons offers a Quick Course Diagnostic in the middle of every semester. The QCD helps to peel back the layers of course design, student motivation, etc… to find out where a change can happen to make the course meet the needs of the students.
Whenever faculty request a QCD, a team from the CFC comes to visit the classroom to collect data from the students. In an anonymous survey, students rank their course experience from best to worst and describe why they made their selection. As might be expected, most courses end up somewhere in the middle of the scale with an average score just slightly above a 3.5 on a scale of 1-5. One of the reasons these courses tend to score above average is that the faculty who ask for the QCD are the kind of teachers who are responsive to the needs of their students, who want to learn, and who are willing to adapt in order to create a high-quality learning environment.
Student insights range from observations about testing, reading load, clarity of assignments, accessibility of the professor, and even systematic issues that go beyond the individual classroom. It is no surprise that students usually know more than they let on and are very happy for the chance to contribute to the value of their learning experience. Often their reports align with hunches the professor already had, but now there is real data to work with and the CFC can partner with the faculty to develop creative solutions to learning challenges that are now clearly defined.
In addition to describing their experience with the course, its content, the activities, readings, tests, technology, etc., students indicate what they are doing to contribute to their own success and imagine what they could do to support their own learning more effectively. Studies have shown that taking just a few minutes to reflect on their participation in the learning process helps students to recognize that education is a partnership between faculty and students, and many times this question by itself can help to increase engagement with learning (Hurney, Harris, Prins, & Kruck, 2014).
After the data collection process is complete, another team at the CFC transfers the information into a digital format, runs some statistical tests, and performs a basic qualitative analysis of student responses. We take hundreds of pieces of data collected from your classroom and transform it into useful charts, insights, and suggestions for how you can take another step toward excellence in teaching and learning All of this folds into a report for the faculty that includes a selection of the data alongside key recommendations from the educational development team at the CFC. When the report is ready, the faculty and the education specialist from the CFC meet to review the results and explore potential strategies for moving forward.
In March we will be offering 12-16 faculty the chance to participate in a quick course diagnostic. These weeks represent the midpoint of the semester, which gives you a chance to revisit your course design and facilitation strategy and make some changes mid-semester. If you think you will be interested in this service, reserve your space today by submitting a few details about your spring course using the link below.
Hurney, C. A., Harris, N. L., Prins, S. C. B., & Kruck, S. E. (2014). The Impact of a Learner-Centered, Mid-Semester Course Evaluation on Students. The Journal of Faculty Development; Stillwater, 28(3), 55–61. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1696856596/abstract/58BDCD459BA472EPQ/1