Course Evaluation Data and Information

for English 624: Teaching College Writing

Fall 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
Dept. Ave.
(red=exceeds dept. average)
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 course is designed to provide practical and theoretical support to graduate students who are teaching their first sections of ENG 101 autonomously. As such, it's a course that moves between more abstract principles of teaching writing and very specific, classroom-based experiences and problems the TAs are having. There is a good deal of collaborative activity; TAs visit each other's classes and write up reflective portfolio entries on the experience. They do a reflective analysis of how they respond to and grade a set of student papers. They study one student in their class carefully and write a profile of that student and his or her progress over the course. The nature of the teaching portfolio, which stands at the center of their work, tends to lump much of the writing toward the end of the semester, when other pressures are mounting. The numbers are strong, and with this small a class size (14), one or two "3" or "4" scores can easily lower the average for a specific question. The textbook got somewhat higher scores than last year, but overall, given the anxiety that most new TAs experience when they tackle their first section of ENG 101--and the need to provide a lot of support for that reason--I'm generally satisfied with the overall ratings. I'd like to work more on the balance of class discussions based on the TAs' experiences and discussions of theory and more abstract practices. The former, I've learned, is crucial to help the TAs deal with problems emerging from their teaching, but some of those problems are not relevant to other TAs. Perhaps a course blog would help, as long as it were password-protected.

Anonymous Written Comments from Students (from the evaluations):

Strengths (of both course and instructor):

--The course is well designed and helped support the teaching being done in my class.

--The instructor was very receptive to student's questions; he supplied students with a variety of resources to help them learn.

--I really appreciate Dr. Anson's written feedback which is so thorough and useful. Dr. Anson's expertise in the field is evident in the structure of the course, but I also like the way he allows us to work through problems in class as a group without stepping in with the authoritative answer (unless it is necessary in which case he will).

--I think the teaching portfolio is an extremely useful and practical final assignment for this course.

--Extremely knowledgeable and experienced; open to exploring new technologies in the classroom; receptive to problem-solving.

--Provided useful new resources for instructors; open forum to discuss issues; e-mail conversations outside of class to augment discussions and provide solutions for problems.

--I enjoyed working with you.

--One of Chris' great strength is the extensive feedback he give to students while they are working on projects and papers. I don't know how he does it.

--I appreciated this course.

--Chris was very supportive of us this semester.

--Professor Anson is an effective instructor.

--Dr. Anson is clearly an accomplished, well-informed, and effective teacher. He always responded promptly to any questions I had and was willing to make time outside of the classroom to address any concerns.

--Dr. Anson is exceptionally knowledgeable and continually shared advice, resources and experiences to help us improve our teaching.

--The course compels us to take time for reflection, which we otherwise would be tempted to neglect in favor of other things. The portfolio project is extremely helpful and useful and the timing of the entry due dates allows adequate periods for feedback and revision before final submission.

--The portfolio activities were tremendously helpful. Comments were extensive and thoughtful.

--Dr. Anson is a superior professor. He is particularly adept at challenging us to constantly reflect on our teaching.

--This course is excellent in preparing Teaching Assistants as Instructors for English 101. Initially, I thought it would be better to have us complete the portfolios after the semester was over, but now see that completing it in tandem with our first semester of teaching ensured constant reflection.

Things to work on:

--I would suggest making the boot camp two weeks, or splitting it into two parts. One section would happen in May focused on syllabus prep. The second section would occur in August and focus on teaching in the class. This would allow for more time to work on the syllabus, and still offer time in the late summer to review them, and help prepare teachers for the fall.

--My only complaint is that I could not take this course BEFORE I began teaching as well as during my first semester teaching. I think the workshop component of the course should be extended; I think it would be effective to have a one-week workshop at the beginning of the summer and another one just before the semester begins.

This is an interesting idea (the pre-semester workshop used to be held in May, but there was too much time between then and the fall semester to keep everyone working on their courses). Adding time might meet with some resistance and would cut down even more on class time during the semester, but it's worth considering such alternative arrangements.

-- I would have liked discussion in the class to focus less on people's particular issues because I think it led to the same people complaining every week.

--Can get distracted/off-topic by issue of the day.

--Class time could be better used to focus more on writing in the disciplines and less on support group meetings.

--A lot of class time was spent on support group activities. While this is important, some of the more theory-based discussions were much more helpful.

There's always a tension between discussing theory/readings and focusing on the specific teaching issues and problems emerging from everyone's experience. It might be good to set a strict time limit for the "what issues are emerging in your teaching" episodes, maybe with a class vote to extend the time if something really problematic, relevant, and interesting comes up.

--It would be really interesting to see the instructor modeling low-stakes uses of technology in the 624 class to give more ideas for the technologically shy. I'm not sure if this is feasible, but I would have liked to see another computer lab day for 624 using methods for computer classroom pedagogy, possibly another guest lecture or the guest lecture during the semester not in the beginning workshop when everyone was so overwhelmed.

A good suggestion. People's schedules didn't permit them to take (m)any of the DELTA workshops on using technology, so it might be helpful to build in some more concrete demonstrations of what is possible in the ENG 101 course for those who are less experienced. The wiki was designed to share that sort of knowledge, but it may not be as helpful as actually doing the work in front of a computer.

I'm glad we've created a teaching portfolio, but I almost would have preferred firm due dates, because it was all too easy to let things slide.

This issue has come up before. I now let the class decide what they'd prefer. Most like the floating deadlines for portfolio entries (instead of a draconian policy and points subtracted for late work), but some really need the deadlines to avoid procrastination. Fine-tuning this might involve an optional grace period for, say, one or two entries (only).

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