Documenting Teaching Effectiveness – Elizabeth Riter
Documenting Teaching Effectiveness
Graduate Teaching Associate
Department of Civil Engineering
Winner of the 2011 Graduate Associate Teaching Award
Feedback is an important factor in teaching. It not only affirms what you are doing right, but it also determines what area of your teaching can be improved. During my teaching experience at Ohio State, I have received feedback from students regarding my teaching in the classroom through SEI (student evaluation of instruction) summaries, feedback from colleagues regarding my teaching style in the classroom through evaluation forms, and feedback from my colleagues regarding my training style through surveys. I value all of these types of feedback because although they are considering different areas of my position, they offer insight to improving my overall teaching and training capabilities. The following paragraphs provide additional feedback and the reflection on the feedback I mentioned above. Additional references are provided in Part 2 of this section.
At the end of every quarter teaching in the First-Year Program, we provide and receive feedback from our instructional team regarding our performance throughout the quarter. The instructional team consists of an instructor or faculty member, a graduate teaching assistant (my position), and an undergraduate teaching assistant (UTA). The following comments are from my instructional team members following the respective quarter:
“You were incredible! Always on time. Always ready to go. And always smiling. You are a great role model for future engineers! Thanks for the wonderful job you did in all aspects of your duties this past quarter!” – Dr. Phil Schlosser, Instructor in Fall ‘09
“Working with Liz has been a pleasure this past quarter. We were always able to communicate effectively and I think this helped avoid confusion in the classroom. She always came to class very well prepared, no matter what the topic of lecture or lab. If I ever had questions, I felt comfortable approaching Liz for help. There were several times that we found discrepancies with the grading key and I found it very easy to sit down together and discuss a fair solution. I really appreciated all of Liz’s support and the effort she put into the class.” – Ashley Purdy, UTA in Winter ‘10
“Liz- I was stunned by how on top of things you were in the class. Your organization skills were enviable even at the worst of times, and I was really impressed with how quickly you learned the students’ names. You were a really great person to work with in lab, especially since you have so much experience with the roller coaster project. I thought you were really efficient with your lectures in the beginning of the labs, and hit on the important points of the lab without dwelling too much with trivial concerns. This let students have a lot of time to collect data and troubleshoot, and that really helped some groups who were struggling or short on members. You were really friendly and personable, and I heard nothing but good things about you from the students.” – Gabrielle McDonald, UTA in Spring ‘10
As mentioned previously in Section 3 [Description of Teaching Responsibilities], I am a leader for training new teaching associates (undergraduate and graduate). I led a session during orientation this past summer to train new and current employees during orientation, titled “FE Survival Guide.” The session was approximately 30 minutes in length, including an overview lecture, an activity, and summarized handouts. I trained 49 employees. The main purpose of the session was to familiarize them with their overall roles and responsibilities for their future teaching roles. We took a survey from the trainees asking the following questions and I received the responses outlined in Figure 2 below:
Based on the feedback I received from my students (Figures 3, 4, and 5), I can see that my focus on passion and preparation are recognized and appreciated by them. This can be seen in my SEI for Spring 2010 (Figure 3), for which I received values of 4.9/5.0 based on 14/32 student responses in the following areas: “Instructor well-organized, Intellectually stimulating, Instructor interested in teaching, Instructor well-prepared, Instructor interested in helping students, Communicated subject matter clearly, and Overall rating.” Additionally, they provided me with comments that reinforce this as seen in Figure 4. Five out of six of these comments include the word “helpful” showing to me that I am fulfilling my passion for helping students. I also received an overall rating of 4.9, which is above the average rating among our program of 4.2 as seen in Figures 3 and 5. My trend in overall rating is generally increasing as seen in Figure 5, with the exception of fall quarter of 2010. This may be attributed to the fact that I was teaching with a new instructor this quarter, who taught somewhat differently than I do. Every other quarter I was with the same instructor, whose teaching style strongly resembles mine. Since the instructor teaches during class and I teach during lab, this strongly impacts the students’ perception of the class and instructional team as a whole. During this quarter, I did still receive all positive comments from students including the following: “This teacher was well-prepared and truly cared about teaching!” In addition to feedback from my students, the feedback received from my colleagues outlined above and in Figure 2 also emphasizes the fact that my passion and preparation for teaching has led to successful learning.
After receiving my first SEI, my overall rating was only a 4.3/5.0. I looked at all areas in which we are scored, and tried my best to improve these by utilizing the methods mentioned previously in my teaching statement (Section 2 of this portfolio). Although I still received a 4.8 in “Instructor well – prepared” and a 4.6 in “Instructor interested in helping students,” I saw areas for improvement. I tried to improve this by learning all students’ names right away, making myself more available by answering emails quickly, and improving curriculum documents to make them more clear and concise. In looking at my most recent feedback, these methods seem to have worked well. I always want to collect feedback from students and colleagues to assess my teaching abilities and flaws in order to improve my teaching methods.