Sunday, January 29, 2006

This is why I call the blog "et al."

(okay, "All Dorcasina, all the time.blogspot" was already taken)

Kazooist and teacher extraordinaire Terminal Degree has perhaps the smartest advice I have ever read for putting evaluations in perspective. Here's the most immediately relevant advice about student evaluations, but her post is essential reading in its original form for the generosity of her teaching and the general wisdom she shares with her student (and with her readers):

My comments start with perspective gained through one of my worst experiences from my first year of teaching college years ago. [...]

Luckily, my dean, a very wise man, read those comments first, and he gave me an "assignment." It was a painful assignment, but a useful one.

Part one: List everything you have accomplished (or ways in which you have grown) in the last semester that is related to work, professional development, and spiritual life/personal growth.
Part two: List the ways in which your class responded positively on your evals. In what areas do you demonstrate strength?
Part three: List areas in which you see you need to improve, either from your evals or from your own self-awareness. What goals will you set for next semester?I soon realized that parts one and two were MUCH longer lists than part three! (Whew!)
I also realized that there's something about human nature that makes us hear the NEGATIVE comments more strongly than the positive things we hear. (If a professor gets 99 great evals and 1 negative one, you can be assured that he/she is going to dwell on that one negative comment and forget the positive ones!) Why do we do this? Well, we tend to want perfection (which we'll never have on this earth), and we want everyone to like us and our work (and that's not going to happen, either!). So we dwell on those small, negative comments, to the point where we actually forget to listen for the positive comments. The negative ones can "drown out" the good stuff!

18 Comments:

At 1:53 AM , Blogger Terminaldegree said...

Thanks, Dorcasina. Glad this was useful to you. Sure, feel free to share it with your colleagues.

Hope you're hanging in there in such a tough time.

(o)

 
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