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Use Evaluation Data

Module by: Larry Ragan. E-mail the author

Summary: This module focuses on building in opportunities for students to provide feedback about their experience in an online course and the use of evaluation data to improve future versions of the course. This module is part of the Best Practices in Online Teaching Course created by Penn State University World Campus as a guide for faculty who are new to teaching in an online environment.

What to Do?

Figure 1: Survey Results, Photo by sanja gjenero, Photo #783758, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/783758
Figure 1 (graphics1.jpg)

Effective online instructors conduct course evaluation during teaching and use the evaluation data to improve their teaching or for future course improvement.

How to Do It?

  • Set aside a discussion board in the course site soliciting (anonymous) feedback on the course and respond publicly to feedback (See Kleinman (2005) for examples)
  • Incorporate student course evaluation data into your teaching
  • Encourage and reward students to report substantive errors in the course (Ragan & Terheggen, 2003) (See Example 1)
  • Complete faculty evaluations to provide feedback for future course redesign if there is any (See Example 2)

Example 1: Reward Students for Reporting Errors in Course

Explanation

To ensure that courses are responsive to rapidly changing technologies and applications, challenge students to discover substantive errors, and award a modest (i.e., 10 points out of 500 total) “finder’s fee” to those who discover and report such errors.

Benefits

  • Provides students with an incentive to aid in the improvement of course material
  • Enhances student self-esteem and sense of appreciation and contribution

Limitations

  • Faculty may resist rewarding students for locating errors
  • Academic culture may be a barrier
  • Strategy may trivialize the learning process and may be inappropriate for upper- level courses
  • May create a bias judgment

Rating

  • 2 (Faculty rated strategies on a 5 point scale, a rating of 5 is the highest for a strategy with excellent effectiveness)
  • Soliciting the help of students in finding course errors and rewarding them for submission of errors reduces faculty workload in course review and updates.

Source: Ragan, L.C. & Terheggen, S.L. (2003). Effective workload management strategies for the online environment. Retrieved July 6, 2006, from Penn State World Campus Web site: http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/pdf/fac/workload_strat.pdf

Example 2: Faculty End of Course Survey from the College of Liberal Arts

1. How would you rate your overall experience in teaching your online course on a scale of 1 to 7?

  1. ___lowest
  2. ___
  3. ___
  4. ___
  5. ___
  6. ___
  7. ___highest

2. How well do you think students liked this online version of the course in comparison to a resident version?

  • They liked it much better
  • They liked it somewhat better
  • There was no difference in their satisfaction with the course
  • They liked it somewhat less
  • They liked it much less

3. Overall, how well did students in this course do in comparison to how students do in your resident sections? Why do you think that is?

4. Were there any specific tools or learning activities that you thought were particularly effective in this course? Please describe.

5. Were there any specific tools or learning activities that did not work as well as you had hoped in this course? Please describe.

6. What changes would you like to make to this course for the next offering? Please list in order of priority.

7. Teaching this course took: (don't include time spent developing the course)

  • Substantially more time than teaching the same course in residence
  • Somewhat more time than teaching the same course in residence
  • About the same amount of time as teaching the same course in residence
  • Somewhat less time than teaching the same course in residence
  • Substantially less time than teaching the same course in residence

8. How well did the Course Management System perform for this class?

  • Constant problems and frustrations
  • Occasional problems
  • Reasonably reliable
  • Worked well, few problems
  • Solid, no problems

9. As much as possible, we'd like to teach online courses without using in-person proctored exams. If your course currently has proctored exams, do you think this change would work for your course?

  • Yes, definitely
  • Probably, I'd like to talk about some ideas
  • Not sure, but would like to discuss it
  • Probably not, but we can talk about it
  • Definitely not
  • Not applicable to my course

10. What one piece of advice would you give to a faculty member teaching online for the first time?

11. Would you recommend teaching online to another member of your department? Why or why not?

Voice of Experience

To hear insights from experienced online instructors about preparing for online teaching, access any or all of the following interviews. Please make sure your audio is enabled.

Jonathan Mathews

Figure 2
Figure 2 (jonathanmathews.jpg)
Figure 3
Mathews - Stress in Online Teaching (mp3)
Media File: MathewsStress.mp3

Alfred Turgeon

Figure 4
Figure 4 (altugeon.jpg)
Figure 5
Alfred Turgeon - Rewarding Teaching Experiences (Interviewed by Larry Ragan) (mp3)
Media File: TurgeonExperience.mp3
Figure 6
Alfred Turgeon - Challenges in Online Teaching (Interviewed by Larry Ragan) (mp3)
Media File: TurgeonChallenge.mp3

Why Do It?

“Through careful instructional design, support, and guidance from the instructor, along with ongoing feedback from students to the instructor and from the instructor to the students, an online course can evolve into a robust, productive, and enjoyable learning community” (Kleinman, 2005, p.17).

Reference

Kleinman, S. (2005). Strategies for encouraging active learning, interaction, and academic integrity in online courses. Communication Teacher, 19(1), 13-18

Ragan, L.C. & Terheggen, S.L. (2003). Effective workload management strategies for the online environment. Retrieved July 6, 2006, from Penn State World Campus Web site: http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/pdf/fac/workload_strat.pdf

Activity

Quality can be a difficult construct to define in the online classroom. What does quality look like to you online course? What might be the characteristics we can measure? How do you know when you see it? If you wish, post your response to the discussion board for this page.

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