West Virginia University launched a pilot early teaching assessment to help professors gauge the effectiveness of teaching methods earlier on in the semester.
The assessment is similar to one students typically fill out at the end of the semester. By providing a similar evaluation within the first few weeks, students are given the opportunity to provide constructive feedback that can be used to develop courses as they progress.
“Hopefully people can benefit from the results they see and be able to better communicate with their students,” said Jessica Vanderhoff, faculty senate teaching and assessment committee chair.
Professors received the assessment on Monday, and have until Oct. 1 to receive feedback and submit the student assessment to the University.
It is at the discretion of each professor whether or not they choose to administer the pilot assessment to their students. Vanderhoff said many professors have implemented their own forms of assessing classes early or mid-semester previously and may not feel it is necessary to conduct the University’s assessment.
“We were building this tool just as another resource for faculty to use in case they hadn’t already developed one or in case they were thinking about different ways to kind of gauge [student’s] experience,” Vanderhoff said.
Vanderhoff said the pilot has been in development since the fall 2019 semester, and is not related to the transition onto a virtual learning platform.
Because of COVID-19, students and professors may face unique challenges when trying to transition onto a new learning platform. Vanderhoff said any concerns or changes students would like to see should be translated into constructive feedback for those who are asked to complete the assessment.
She said it is important for students to give concrete examples to help their professors fully understand what can be done to improve the class for each individual student.
“We want to really encourage students to be descriptive,” Vanderhoff said. “I think all faculty members inherently want to improve. We want to make the classes better, we want to make our instruction better.”
Data from the assessment will be shared with University stakeholders including the Office of the Provost, Faculty Senate and Teaching and Learning Commons. Because this assessment is still in the pilot phase, the only purpose of sharing the data with stakeholders is to help the University improve the assessment and to help visualize which types of courses the assessment benefits most. Responses will in no way be used by the University to evaluate a professor or a specific course.
Assessments will be taken fully online, and student responses will remain anonymous.
“When faculty ask for feedback, we really want your feedback,” Vanderhoff said. “We are all so inundated with stuff right now you might not feel as though your faculty member is always hearing you, but we do.”