Course Evaluation Data and Information

for English 455: Literacy in the United States

Spring Semester, 2008

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.

In some cases, where appropriate, I have included anonymously written comments from the students in the course. If so, I have created a kind of "dialogue" from some of these comments by interspersing my own (italicized) thoughts and reflections, and on 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.


The following chart shows each question on the NC State University-Wide Evaluation of Instruction 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). 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


Ave. Score
1. The instructor stated course objectives/outcomes.
2. The instructor was receptive to students outside the classroom.
3. The instructor explained difficult material well.
4. The instructor was enthusiastic about teaching the course.
5. The instructor was prepared for class.
6. The instructor gave prompt and useful feedback.
7. The instructor effectively used instructional technology.
8. The instructor consistently treated students with respect.
9. Overall, the instructor was an effective teacher.
10. The course readings were valuable aids to learning.
11. The course assignments were valuable aids to learning.
12. This course was intellectually challenging and stimulating.
13. This course improved my knowledge of the subject.
14. Overall, this course was excellent.

Average of all questions :



What these numbers are telling me: This is the second time that the newly-approved course, "Literacy in the United States," has been taught at NC State. I developed and taught a similar course at the University of Minnesota for about eight years. The course involves a service-learning component in which students must tutor young children in poor communities for a minimum of two hours a week for the duration of the semester. Again the logistics proved a little complicated, mostly in getting the students situated as soon as possible, given the necessity for background checks, schedule alignment, and the like. The first time, students felt a little overworked because we kept the academic component at the same level of intensity as their tutoring increased. This time I backed off a little on reflection assignments in the second half of the course and that helped. There were twice as many students this time, and this posed some challenges for in-class discussion because there were some widely differing social and educational ideologies at work--both an asset and also a source of a little tension. The numbers are also a little lower this time around, for inexplicable reasons--possibly related to class size. This time I cut one of the books (a large anthology) and put most of the readings online, which helped. The presentations at the end of the course, based on students' investigations of an area related to literacy, were quite good, and the class seemed to get a lot from them. I'm also pleased at the increase in the score on Item #13--perhaps because I restructured the topic sequence in the course, students felt they learned more about the subject than the first time around.

Anonymous Written Comments from Students (from the evaluations):


"Dr. Anson is a wonderful teacher. He is both knowledgeable and active in his content area. This is the best thing for a teacher's students to see. Dr. Anson is a very strong teacher that is well versed in effective pedagogy. Whenever we had discussions he always stood back and only commented every 5 or so comments to allow us to work on our own knowledge before he would help us."

"Dr. Anson knows about literacy and its issues and passes that knowledge on to his students through lectures, outside resources and hands-on learning experiences (tutoring through CIS)."

"I learned about so many aspects of literacy that had never occurred to me. And I found out the impact of literacy, functional literacy and illiteracy on persons, groups, cultures and societies."

"The discussions were particularly interesting. I liked how we got to bring whatever information we had learned previously to the class."

"Good course. Very informative."

"The readings were the biggest strength of this course. I am glad that all English teachers have to take this course."

Things to work on:

"Feedback on papers was a little lengthy."

Typically I write, or sometimes digitally record, substantive comments on papers; this is a rare situation in which someone would prefer briefer comments.

"The first paper wasn't until the end of February; blogs were ungraded; the 2nd paper, presentation, and final all took place in the last 2 weeks of the class. I was also unsure how the tutoring hours fit into the grade for the course."

This is an occasional concern for students who want feedback and a grade estimate every few weeks, because the first few weeks are devoted to getting situated at the tutoring site, starting the readings, and reflecting on the course material. Midterm grade estimates are provided, and there is ample information about how the tutoring fits into the actual grade (it doesn't, other than the requisite hours with a very small provision for liaison feedback that can affect a student's participation score--minimal--for outstanding tutorial service or service with serious problems. So some of this comment falls on the student (to study the course materials on the Web carefully), but it's a good indication of how important it is for me to reinforce that point and look for ways to provide some assessment earlier in the course.

Discussion topics were based, but not centered, around the course readings. Unfortunately, this made it very easy to contribute to the discussion without having done the reading."

Interesting point. The reflection blog entries are designed to subvert this possibility: if students post them on time, they're often tied to the course readings so that they're impossible to do without having read the selections. But some more focus on the readings themselves, perhaps tied to the blog entries, might help. --CA


Back to Teaching and Advising Page