5

Like many of us, I imagine, I have been giving online lectures, tutorials, Q&A sessions, exams, etc. for almost a year (and I just realized that it has, indeed, been almost a year...).

I have been frustrated by many aspects of online teaching, and I am not sure that I am meeting students' expectations. Now that this second online semester is coming to an end, I would like to send them a questionnaire to ask them what they thought of this whole ordeal, what they would like to see improved, what they enjoyed, etc. However, I want to make sure that my questions are not biased, and that they cover everything, I don't want to miss some aspects.

What are good questions that I could ask students? What are resources that I could read on such questionnaires?

Note: There isn't a culture of systematically asking for students' evaluations of courses in my country. Everything is organized by individual instructors. I teach math if it makes a difference. I have myself taken a class a fews years ago on collecting students' opinions, but it proved useless to me and completely out of touch with the reality of teaching that I was familiar with (the class instructors were coming from social sciences, where I believe the teaching is done in a different manner – I am not trying to disparage, just saying that teaching e.g. math and teaching e.g. sociology isn't done in the same way).

0
4

I'd go on about this in an informal manner. I'd probably ask general open questions like "What did you like about the course?", "What do you think could be improved about the course?", and then cover issues I am particularly interested in, like "What do you think of the way the exercise feedback was given?", "How do you think students could be stimulated better to participate actively in the online lessens?" or "how effective do you think was XXX that I tried to stimulate participation?" etc.

I do not think that questions need to be unbiased. In fact I'd like questions to encourage students to be positive and constructive (therefore I ask "what did you like" but not "what didn't you like"). Many feel more comfortable writing positive things and some will respond to "What do you think could be improved about the course?" rather than "what didn't you like?" Also I think it will help me more and make myself more open to take criticism if it is presented in a constructive way, and I will more happily use ideas to improve if I get a generally positive message from the feedback. The students need to be encouraged to write things that can help you to improve, but I don't think it serves anybody to invite them to complain.

Obviously it is laudable that you'd also like to cover some aspects that are maybe not the first things you think of yourself. Some general aspects that can be covered are speed of delivery, quality of the provided material, do the students feel comfortable to ask questions and that your answers address them properly (the problem here is that students who for some reason don't feel comfortable to ask you questions may also not be comfortable to tell you this), what do the students think about the amount of work to be done, how this is organised, is the material challenging enough or even too challenging, do they think that you assessed their background knowledge well, i.e., neither spent too much time to explain things they already knew nor assumed material that they didn't know etc. Others will add more. You can of course also ask things like "Is there any comment you have that isn't covered by the questions up to now?" or "Do you believe that there is something about the situation of the students in these times that I should be aware of/take into account more?"

A word of caution though, somewhat in contrast to the number of suggestions before. Keep it short! Keep in mind filling in a questionnaire and then reading it takes time of your students and you. Time is precious. It is probably a bigger problem to cover all you can think of in a questionnaire that takes half an hour to fill in than to ask just five or seven questions and then realise that you forgot something you'd have liked to ask. With very open general questions, you give the students at least the chance to tell you whatever is not covered by other questions.

1
  • Good points all around, thanks!
    – user131836
    Nov 19 '20 at 11:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.