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Celebrating the Life

Observation is the easiest way to begin incorporating evaluation into your instruction. It may be carried out either formally or informally, and by oneself, by ones' peers, by students and by faculty. In this section, we will look at different ways which you can use observation for evaluation.

 

 


Self-observation
How can you evaluate your own instruction without outside feedback? If you have followed the steps outlined for planning a class, you already have some tools to use. At the end of your instruction session, take some time to think about the session. Did you meet your goals and objectives? How was your presentation style? Did you incorporate active learning? If so, was it successful? Choose both positive aspects and aspects which you would like to improve. Set goals for yourself for your next session.

Exercise
Try keeping a journal or log of each session that you plan, and include your self-assessment at the end of the session. By keeping a log, you will be able to track your progress as you achieve your goals over time.

Examples of questions to ask yourself after teaching are available at http://www.utexas.edu/academic/ctl/assessment/iar/teaching/.

Audio or videotaping
If you're feeling brave, you may want to audiotape or videotape your session. If you do so, be sure to get permission in advance from the faculty member and students. When you watch the video or listen to the tape, note what worked and what you would like to improve. If you tape more than one session, you will have an audio or video log of your progress.

Exercise
Videotape yourself! The Center for Teaching Effectiveness (CTE) is available to videotape your session and discuss the videotape with you afterward. To schedule a videotaping session, contact CTE at 232-1775.

Feedback from a colleague
Once you have tried turning a discerning eye upon your own instruction, you may be feeling brave enough to ask your co-instructor to evaluate you. If you don't have a co-instructor, you can ask a colleague to sit in on the instruction session. LIS staff are happy to do so. At the end of the session, talk to the person you asked to evaluate your performance. If you are the evaluator, be sure to note what was done well, as well as offer constructive criticism. As the one being evaluated, be prepared to hear and accept constructive criticism, and discuss with your colleague(s) ways in which you can improve.

Feedback from faculty
Have you ever taught a session and afterward felt as though it didn't go well at all? Yet the faculty member thanked you and told you how useful the session was. Are they just being polite because you taught a section of their course for them? Maybe. Often, faculty perceive library instruction as a favor we are doing rather than part of our job and our educational mission. But faculty can be an excellent source of feedback if you can just get them to give you some. Before the session, talk to the faculty member and tell them that you are going to be asking them for feedback. You can leave the question open-ended or ask for something specific, such as feedback on presentation style, whether the students were engaged, content, etc. Make sure the faculty member knows that you are serious about getting feedback and will not be offended by honest answers. You can either talk with them directly or conduct the conversation via e-mail. Some faculty may feel more comfortable giving feedback via e-mail.

Exercise
After the session, send the faculty member email asking them for feedback - sample email

Feedback from students
Students are another resource for evaluation. Talk about a captive audience! But if it is hard to get faculty to give you honest feedback, it is even harder to get students to give you feedback. There are many questions and forms you can use which will provide feedback on different areas. For example, you may want to assess your teaching style, the value of the content or the appropriateness of the length of the session. Think about what you want to know before you choose an evaluation tool. You may want to ask the faculty member to have the students send an evaluation of the instructor to him or her and then s/he can strip out their personal information and pass it along. Another option is to give students an evaluation form at the end of the class and ask them to drop it off by the door on their way out.

Exercise
Leave time at the end of your next instruction session to ask for feedback on your session and your presentation.