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Quant_Psych_2018

What is considered a good score on your course/instructor evaluations?

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I got my first set of course evaluations back today. This is the first time I've ever taught a course as the instructor of record. The course consisted of me teaching two classes of 30 psych students how to use the statistical software SPSS. I'm not entirely sure how to determine how I faired. For my overall instructor score, I got a 4.61 and a 4.63. There weren't any awful comments or anything like that. At most, there were a few comments about having more grades in the class and making the midterm worth less. However, I don't have much control over how the course runs.

Would these scores be considered good? bad? okay? I read an article that said professors shoot for above a 4.7, but I'm not sure if that's accurate. Any guidance on interpreting course evaluations would be helpful.

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Do your evaluations give you the means and medians for instructors/TAs in your department? That usually gives me a good sense of how I compare. 

But in all honesty, the numbers are not as important as the written feedback. Students don't always know how to rate us on a 1-5 scale, so the ratings don't really mean that much. But if you see two or more people leave the same written feedback for you, then that's something you can use to improve the course.

I hope that helps.

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9 minutes ago, rheya19 said:

Do your evaluations give you the means and medians for instructors/TAs in your department? That usually gives me a good sense of how I compare. 

But in all honesty, the numbers are not as important as the written feedback. Students don't always know how to rate us on a 1-5 scale, so the ratings don't really mean that much. But if you see two or more people leave the same written feedback for you, then that's something you can use to improve the course.

I hope that helps.

 

Unfortunately, the evaluations did not provide any feedback as far as how my means/medians compare to other faculty/graduate students. That's part of my confusion. It's fine to have a 4.6, but I don't really know how that compares.

You are on point about the written feedback. A couple of people mentioned that they had trouble hearing me in the back (wish they would have mentioned it during the semester), and I can certainly adjust that easy enough.

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What matters is that it wasn't a total disaster, and that your evaluations couldn't be held against you. The precise decimal point is entirely irrelevant. Nobody is going to look at your job materials and say, "Well, Quant_Psych_2018's teaching scores are all in the 4.6 range, but Dr. Fancy over here has scores in the 4.7s, so fuck Quant_Psych_2018."

You should aim to be above the department average, and well into what would be a passing grade, but the truth is that they don't matter all that much. Everyone has some bad comments, everyone has a class that went worse than others, and so on. What you're working for is a narrative that tells search committees that you're a competent teacher--maybe even a very good one, for teaching-focused schools. But as long as you're not raising red flags, you're fine and shouldn't sweat it.

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In their popular FPS Overwatch, Blizzard collected "rate this match quality" data for a year before realizing that the only thing they could correlate it to is whether or not someone won or lost the match.

In other words, who cares?

 

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A cynical answer would be that your scores are likely reflective of your race/ethnicity and gender and that they may say nothing at all about your ability to teach well or lack thereof. Student evaluations of instructors are notoriously flawed so I would focus on the narrative comments and use those to think about how to improve. If you really want help interpreting them and improving, meet with someone in your university's teaching center and, if possible, set up a classroom observation with them.

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Agree that the comments are what to look at. And don't look for one-offs, look for trends and patterns. 

Scores vsry hugely from school to school. My school, for instance, is a 0-6 scale and average is well above 5.5. 

If you really want to know, ask around your school- but numbers don't really matter much, they just give you a range of how students felt about your class on a particular day. 

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On 1/11/2018 at 5:50 PM, Quant_Psych_2018 said:

You are on point about the written feedback. A couple of people mentioned that they had trouble hearing me in the back (wish they would have mentioned it during the semester), and I can certainly adjust that easy enough.

Agree with everything others said about the numbers. Responding to this point though, my suggestion would be to ask for feedback from students at least once during the semester. You can just make your own feedback form. There are lots of suggestions online, but I like something really simple. Just three prompts: Start/Stop/Continue. Ask the students to tell you one thing that they wish you would start doing, one thing they wish you would stop doing and one thing they liked that they would want you to continue doing. They don't have to answer all 3 if there's nothing to say. Sometimes, I might do a check-in and ask students to tell me how many hours they are spending on homework/reading/assignments to help calibrate the length of my assignments.

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11 minutes ago, TakeruK said:

Agree with everything others said about the numbers. Responding to this point though, my suggestion would be to ask for feedback from students at least once during the semester. You can just make your own feedback form. There are lots of suggestions online, but I like something really simple. Just three prompts: Start/Stop/Continue. Ask the students to tell you one thing that they wish you would start doing, one thing they wish you would stop doing and one thing they liked that they would want you to continue doing. They don't have to answer all 3 if there's nothing to say. Sometimes, I might do a check-in and ask students to tell me how many hours they are spending on homework/reading/assignments to help calibrate the length of my assignments.

This is great advice, though sometimes you might get some attempts at humor. I, for instance, had nothing I really wanted my prof to introduce when she did this mid-semester, so I wrote that I wanted her to bring in more baked goods. She brought some in two weeks later (I did try to make it clear that I didn't actually expect anything like that, though the class did seem to appreciate it, haha).

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11 hours ago, Eigen said:

Scores vsry hugely from school to school. My school, for instance, is a 0-6 scale and average is well above 5.5. 

The first question on my school's evaluation is 1-5, with 1 being the best and 5 the worst.

All the other questions on the evaluation are 1-5, with 5 being the best and 1 being the worst.

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