150+ Targeted Tips for Improving Your Teaching Practice

Decorative: An archery butt with a target on it and 4 arrows in the bull's eye


"Interpreting Course Evaluations" (web page; doc) outlines specific, practical suggestions -- "not particularly difficult to implement" -- on how to refine the following aspects of your teaching practice:

A. The Global Classroom Experience

  • "Organizing a class session" (5 tips)
  • "Delivering a well-planned lecture" (5 tips)

B. Organization and Clarity

  • "Outlining and communicating course objectives" (7 tips)
  • "Displaying a thorough knowledge of course material" (4 tips)
  • "Explaining concepts clearly" (12 tips)
  • "Distinguishing between more important and less important topics" (8 tips)
  • "Presenting material at an appropriate pace" (6 tips)

C. Encouraging Students' Intellectual Development ("Engagement" practices)

  • "Defining engagement" (8 points)
  • "Emphasizing conceptual understanding and/or critical thinking" (10 tips)
  • "Relating course topics to one another" (5 tips)

D. Interacting with Students

  • "Demonstrating concern for students' learning" (12 tips)
  • "Inspiring and motivating student interest in the course material" (12 tips)
  • "Increasing availability for consultation outside class" (4 tips)

E. Course Content and Evaluation

  • "Selecting valuable course content" (10 tips)
  • "Organizing course topics in a coherent fashion" (7 tips)
  • "Choosing assignments that solidify understanding" (9 tips)
  • "Explaining how students will be evaluated" (4 tips)
  • "Designing and using fair grading procedures" (8 tips)

F. Section and Lab Experiences

  • "Integrating section and/or lab into the course structure" (6 tips)
  • "Identifying suggestions in students' written responses" (6 tips)

G. Further Questions to Think About

  • "Is my course attracting the students I expected? If not, what adjustments in course objectives and/or materials should I consider?"
  • "Are students’ expected grades accurate? If not, should I consider revising grading/feedback procedures?"
  • "Are students attending the course regularly? If not, do class sessions duplicate the readings too much? Is evaluation weighted too heavily toward readings?"
  • "Are students spending a reasonable amount of time on the course outside of class? Are the course requirements too lax or too demanding?"
  • "Do students find the out-of-class assignments valuable? If not, are assignments and readings relevant and engaging? Should I consider assignments that are more concept-oriented, application-oriented, or that require more critical thinking?"
  • "Looking at the evaluations: What’s working well? What areas should I devote more attention to? Within those areas, what two or three specific adjustments might I consider? Is there information in the written comments that can help make sense of lower scores?"
  • "Looking at the distribution of scores within each category: Are the scores consistent, or are they widely distributed? Is there information in the written comments that can help make sense of the distribution of scores? Do the scores seem to vary by major, year of study, or other demographic variables?"
  • "Overall, does the pattern of scores and written comments tell a story? Does it seem that certain factors or teaching methods affected scores in a number of areas? Are there some simple changes that might improve my course and teaching? Or are there more substantial issues I’d like to tackle in my course design and teaching methods?"
  • "Does my own assessment of my teaching match that of my students’? If not, why not?"
  • "Is there someone I’d like to talk to (a colleague, former student, TA, or a [Teaching Common's Coordinator of Instructional Development]) who can help provide some insight into these evaluations?"
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