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Formative Evaluation of Teaching


Index Cards. Several times during the term pass out index cards to students and ask them to respond to two questions, one on the front of the card, the other on the back. You can pose general questions, such as:

Or you may prefer to ask more specific questions about aspects of the course, particularly those aspects of the course which are new to you and/or the students:

You can also provide prompts, such as:

It is important that you respond quickly and candidly to your students' comments. At the next class meeting after this activity, begin by thanking students for their comments. Present a brief summary of their comments, and then respond to any concerns that have been raised. Clarify any confusions about your goals and their expectations. Then indicate which suggestions you will act upon this term, which must wait until the course is next offered, and which you will not act upon.

Suggestion Box. Bring a manila envelope to class or tape one to your office door and ask students to place unsigned comments, questions, or complaints in it. You could ask them to comment on material they don't understand or on the presentation. Clear up any ambiguities or confusion at the next class meeting.


The one-minute paper. This simple approach to the improvement of in-class teaching works by instructors setting aside the last minute of their classes and having their students write on a scrap piece of paper:

Collect the responses immediately and read them before the class meets again. These papers can help you evaluate how well you have conveyed the material - when you go through the papers you'll know what the students understood and what they didn't. This information can help you structure the topics for the next class meeting.

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Last updated June 24, 1997

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