4.6 Evaluating and improving your course
For university teachers, course development often involves incremental and continuous changes. Most teachers are interested in high-quality education and are eager to enhance their courses. At the same time it is clear that there are many obstacles, for example, time and resource scarcity. Further obstacles arise from a conflict between balancing research and teaching activities. In order for pedagogical development to take place there is a need for things such as an active interest on behalf of management and also dialogue with colleagues on matters of education (30). Good communication with students and colleagues is often crucial to success. Course evaluation could serve as the starting point for such a dialogue. Furthermore, teachers get inspired from research and others' pedagogical development efforts when planning course development.
A group discussing results from the LEQ.
An example of a course evaluation method: the LEQ Learning Experience Questionnaire (34) is developed at KTH and is based on CEQ Course Experience Questionnaire (35). The LEQ is a tool that examines the student’s experience of the learning environment in the course. It consists of a number of statements and a few open questions.
Examples of statements are:
- The work I did was challenging in a stimulating way
- It was clear to me what I was expected to learn
- I worked in a way that helped med develop my own understanding of the content
- I got regular feedback that helped me see how I was doing
Examples of open questions are:
- What was the best aspect of the course?
- What would you suggest to improve in the course?
The purpose of evaluating the learning experience is to find aspects of the course that need to be improved.
An example of course evaluation methods in Electronic Design: Course evaluations mainly point to practical deficiencies which need to be addressed. Course evaluation meetings, on the other hand, where both teachers and students participate, can address development needs in both an overall level and a detailed level. Therefore, we use a standard evaluation form, but also try to complement with a more informal evaluation meeting where other aspects can be pointed out. We discuss issues as theory and practice and what the students learned, team work and how the teams were set up, the projects planning model and whether they could work according to the model, and the role of the teacher/supervisor.
Suggestion: Use course evaluation to improve your course. One option is to use questions and statements as in the LEQ. If there are issues that the students rate low, e.g. if the students do not find the course challenging or if it wasn’t clear what they were expected to learn, these issues need to be handled and improved. Preferably, you can discuss these issues with your colleagues and then you can support each other in course development. Besides using evaluation forms, also consider to arrange evaluation meetings with the students.