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Formative Evaluations

The University has a policy of providing summative evaluations to students near the end of their course. This provides feedback to the instructor on many topics. However, wouldn't it be nice to receive some of this feedback earlier in the course so you could make adjustments that would improve the success of your course? Formative evaluations using the Survey Tool in UASOnline can provide this information.

To access the surveys as a student add your name and email address to the classlist. Your name will then appear in the drop-down menu on the survey. To view the results access the Instructors Tools/Assignments/Survey Library. Choose the survey and click on report. The instructors Tools password is liza.

While it is possible for an instructor to ask students in a local class questions concerning textbook purchase and log in problems it is much more convenient if its in a printed format so the issues can be easily tracked. The Survey Tool is an easy way to accomplish the tracking.

What is the purpose of formative Surveys?

“Teacher-Designed Feedback Forms elicit limited, focused responses to very specific questions posed by the instructor. Faculty can quickly and easily analyze data from Feedback Forms and use the results to make informed and timely adjustments in their teaching. Students profit by providing detailed feedback on teaching early enough to benefit from its use.” Angelo, Thomas and K. P. Cross (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: a handbook for college teachers. San Francisco, CA, Jossey-Bess.

Evaluation Questions

What kinds of questions should you ask? When should these questions be posed? Is it necessary to identify the student with the responses?

In the first week or two you can ask questions in a local class such as: does everyone have their textbook, can you logon on to computing resources, have you reviewed the Library Student Resource web page and received your library card? For a distance class it would be best to pose these questions the first day of school due to the added challenges of resolving problems at a distance. The advantage to using the Survey Tool for a local or distance class is that you can configure the response to identify the students name and a text box where they can explain why they haven’t been able to access a resource. This allows you to follow up with the student to help them solve the problem. Example of survey for first week of class.

After 3 – 5 weeks you may want to see how the students feel about the course. This survey will not ask for their names so they can feel free to answer poignant questions truthfully. Here is a link to a comprehensive survey that could be used at this point in many classes that are distance or local. You can also provide a more basic survey and still get valuable input.

It would not be unreasonable to pose another summative evaluation after the mid-point of the class. You still have adequate time to make corrections that will be appreciated by your students. Here is an example of possible questions on a summative evaluation after the midpoint of a class.

I think it is important to recognize the impact that creating, displaying the results, and acting on the results will have on your students. They will recognize that you care enough about the success of your class that you are asking for their advice on improving it. When they see changes based on their input they will recognize that they are not ignored, but are active participants in making their class a success.

Another side benefit is that students will get a better perspective of how other students view the course. If there is one student who criticizes everything the instructor does, but the other students see it differently, they will be forced to reconsider their viewpoint. If the survey asks “how many hours per week do you spend doing the written homework assignments” and a students responds 15 hours and see that everyone else is spending 8 hours, they may come to realize that the problem is not with the assignment, but with them.

Using the Essay Tool for Weekly Summative Evaluations

Use the same essay question every week to ask the “muddiest point” for the week. This provides students the opportunity to voice problems that they had with the content on a weekly basis. This allows a local instructor the opportunity to go over the questions in class while a distance instructor can post added materials to their web site. To obtain student feedback create you can create an essay question in UASOnline. As an example you could ask the question "What topic did you find it hardest to understand this week?" Click Here for instructions on creating and posting essays to UASOnline.


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