I am struggling to work out how good my presentation of material is in lectures I'm currently doing. I've done many lectures in the past, and I've typically received good feedback. I'm now teaching subjects I haven't taught in the past.
Usually I can look at the audience and ascertain that they are (mostly) engaged. At the moment I'm not getting that however. People are looking at their devices, look sullen, or appear to be more interested in talking with one another than the contents of the lecture. Nobody asks any questions (though I've repeatedly encouraged them to do so). I've left a form online (anonymous) for people to ask questions (or leave comments) and nobody has used it.
Maybe the material is just really easy to understand? I'm somewhat limited to what extent I can even change the scope of the course, even if I wanted to. But trying to ascertain what is too easy or difficult is nontrivial anyway, and I'm aware that the audience is mixed. I'm concerned about rushing through material and finding out later that people didn't adequately understand what was being taught. The appreciation that people may potentially not like the content of the lectures has made me somewhat nervous during lectures - it makes it more difficult to speak clearly, coherently, and certainly articulately. This almost certainly impacts on the quality of the lecture, and so is a vicious circle.
What can I do to try and gauge how well I'm currently doing, without finding that people simply complain when the course is over (or alternatively heap praise, which, though I believe is highly unlikely, would mean that I'm currently experiencing much unneeded stress? ) It's left me feeling more than slightly despondent - to put in hours and hours of work only to feel that people would rather not hear me speak at all: and probably get the same sort of rating regardless of the amount of work on my part. For what it's worth turnout is mixed (50-65% on average, which is about typically for most courses), but students are likely to be in the area anyway (having other courses to attend) so they'd probably have to make an active decision not to turn up if they really wanted to avoid this particular course.