Course Evaluation Data and Information

for English 210: Introduction to Language and Linguistics

Fall Semester, 2001

Prof. Chris M. Anson

Before you begin: I strongly believe that teaching well is a lifelong pursuit--an art to be explored and developed, and a science that constantly presents new challenges and opportunities for analysis and growth. As a teacher, I am very much a learner. I need to reflect on what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. Student evaluations are one source of information for me to reflect and improve. As such, I use them formatively, as information helpful in the improvement of a significant part of my professional life: teaching students and teaching other teachers.

But student evaluations can also have a more public function, displaying areas of my teaching that students find to be strong, and areas they find to be in need of improvement. Below, you will see evaluation data from the course and term indicated above, along with a bit of reflection from me about what I see in these numbers and comments. Please use this information responsibly. If you're deciding whether to take a course from me, consider what you see here not only as evidence of ability, but as evidence of my willingness to listen to your peers and improve my teaching in ways that respond to their justified concerns and needs. If you're a fellow professional looking at these data because you want to learn about or evaluate my work, please consider them only as one part of an overall plan for teacher effectiveness and a lifelong pursuit of excellence.

Before you see the evaluative data, you'll see the number of students who took the course, and the grade breakdown in the course. While there is no proven relationship between grades and teaching evaluations, it's important for you to consider the evaluation data in light of the nature of the course, how large or small is was, and how students performed.

After the numerical data are anonymously written comments from the students in the course. I have created a kind of "dialogue" from some of these comments by interspersing my own (italicized) thoughts and reflections. In some cases, I've made notes about ways to address specific concerns the next time I teach the course. By working on areas of concern, I can then match student opinions in future courses against those here to see whether the changes are having a positive impact on the course and on students. Numbers in red indicate that the average is higher than that for the department.


The following chart shows each question on the NC State Department of English Course Evaluation Form. In the first box after the question appears the weighted mean of the results for that question (based on a scale of 1-5, as shown below). In the second box is a comparison with the weighted mean on that question for all courses taught in the English Department that term. 5.0 is the highest mean score possible (every student would give a score of 5 on that question).


Score of 5:
Strongly Agree
Score of 4:
Score of 3:
Score of 2:
Score of 1:
Strongly Disagree


Mean Score
(whole dept.)
1. The instructor presented materials clearly and effectively.
2. The assignments were relevant to course objectives.
3. The instructor's expectations on assignments were clearly explained before the assign. was due.
4. The instructor returned graded papers in time to help me with the next assignment.
5. The instructor's comments on my work explained what I had done well.
6. The instructor willingly made himself available for assistance outside class.
7. The instructor stimulated interest in the subject and motivated learning.
8. The instructor challenged me to draw upon my strongest intellectual resources.
9. The instructor was well-prepared and used class time well.
10. The instructor treated me with professional courtesy.
11. The instructor encouraged student participation.
12. The instructor held me to a high standard of performance.
13. Overall, the instructor did a good job in teaching this course.

Average of all 13 scores (Anson):


Average of all 13 scores (whole department):



What these numbers are telling me:

I'm generally satisfied with the scores from this section of English 210. This was the first time this course was offered for a larger number of students (it had previously been taught with a cap of 15 or 20). Because I am used to teaching an almost identical course at the University of Minnesota for 15 years to classes of between 75 and 200, I didn't find adjusting to the larger number very difficult. It was still possible to employ lots of active learning strategies, discussion, and other hands-on work in the course.

This was the first time I tried incorporating oral presentations into this course. Called "micropresentations," these required students to find an article on a topic related to the course content, summarize it in a short paper, and then present it in 3-5 minutes to the class, following some specific guidelines and a scoring guide found at my internet site for the course. Some students liked giving the presentation, while others appeared to find it a source of tension and nervousness. The class did well with the presentations overallt, however, and most students thought that watching and learning from the micropresentations was enjoyable.

I'm especially pleased with the score on item #3. As I worked on this iteration of the course, I spent considerable time creating very detailed criteria for each assignment in the course, which were available at the course Web site. I also created an "annotated model" of a summary paper (one of the written assignments). In this Web model, students can pass their cursor over certain highlighted words and passages in the sample summary, and pop-up windows appear explaining my thoughts and judgments relative to the stated criteria. In this way, I hope students can learn about expectations for the summaries "inductively," by considering a real paper and its evaluation. Students wrote to me that this method was very helpful to them. I intend to add one or two more samples to the Web site for this course.

The only number lower than the department mean appears for item #6, which concerns availability outside of class, though it's still significantly above average. This number is puzzling, because I hold plentiful office hours and work hard to be approachable, as item #10 suggests. Only a handful of students consulted with me much, perhaps because there was a TA who also held office hours, and there wasn't much activity on our bulletin board, which I had encouraged. I did corrrespond frequently with students over email, however. This raises for me an interesting teaching issue worth exploring: does increased contact over the Internet with students (in the place of face-to-face contact) result in a perception that the teacher is less available? One way to find out is to add a narrative question on the next evaluation, perhaps requesting an estimate of time spent corresponding with the instructor by any means (email, phone, face-to-face, etc.). This could be correlated with item #6.

Anonymous Written Comments from Students (from the evaluations):



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