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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

Self-reflection is a practice that should become a regular part of your teaching. Before a session, think about your goals. They may be simple, such as, "I want to come out from behind the podium while I am teaching." Present yourself with more challenging goals as your teaching progresses, such as, "I want to get a student to demo a search in front of the class." Keeping a written log of these goals will allow you to chart progress and continually revisit your teaching goals.

After the session, reflect: Did I achieve my goal? What stopped me? What can I change about my teaching to be successful next time? 

Get in the habit of self-reflection by using Char Booth’s Three Question Reflection:

  1. What was positive about the interaction? As in, what went well? This could be anything from your teaching performance to learner attitudes/engagement to faculty buy-in.
  2. What was negative about the interaction? As in, what went wrong? Did your tech seize up? Did participants seem bored or unresponsive?
  3. Describe one thing you’d like to improve or follow up on. This could be revising an activity to the way you approach a particular concept to finally reporting the computer that always breaks down.

From:
Booth, Char. 2011. Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning: Instructional Literacy for Library Educators. Chicago: American Library Association.

More questions to ask yourself can be found here

Audio or videotaping

Taping oneself in a public speaking situation sounds like an unpleasant experience for most. It can, however, allow you to watch yourself more objectively and allow you to see and hear the experience of your audience.

When watching or listening to the recording, think about these questions:

Am I speaking too quickly?
Am I speaking loudly enough?
Do I inject too many filler words, like ‘um’ and ‘you know’?
Do I engage in uptalking or vocal fry (see Speaking to an Audience)?
Am I engaging? Do I captivate an audience? Do I command attention?
Do I have habits that are distracting, such as twirling my hair or tugging at my shirt?
Do I ask questions that foster engagement and participation?
When I ask questions of the audience, do I allow enough time for them to reflect and respond?

Always get permission from the faculty member before videotaping the class.

Feedback from a colleague

Asking a trusted colleague to give you feedback on your teaching is valuable and helpful, but it can feel a bit unsettling. Don’t feel scared. We are all here to help one another be better teachers. None of us is perfect and we could all stand to learn something.

If you don't have a colleague in mind, Teaching & Learning librarians are happy to sit in on your instruction session and offer feedback.

Before you ask someone for feedback, or before you give it, it may be helpful to structure the feedback. The evaluator will then be able to address these issues specifically in his/her feedback. Let your evaluator know:

  • what you are worried about in your teaching and what makes you most uneasy (do you speak too quickly? Do you uptalk?)
  • what goals do you have for the session? Do you want to make more eye contact, or move around the room more during active learning?

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

When teaching an instruction session for a faculty member, it’s best to have a good working relationship in which you can share ideas and goals and get on the same page about what will be covered during the library session. This is not always possible. Make it a habit to follow up with faculty about the instruction session. You may ask them if the content you covered met the students’ needs, or ask if any concepts or resources are still troubling the students after the session or assignment. Regardless, by following up via email, you will be opening the door to further communication about the resources/concepts you covered so that both students and faculty feel comfortable contacting you with future needs. The response you get from faculty may clue you in to what you should have covered during the session, and even what may have been superfluous.