At the end of every semester, I take the last 15-20 minutes of the last class to get feedback about what went well and what could be improved the next time I teach the class. I find it more useful and constructive to do this as a discussion than to wait for anonymous evaluations (which are valuable in other ways). Because I’m trying so many new things in my online class, I did a midterm feedback session last Friday. Here’s what I learned:
My video lectures were recorded during a live class I taught at the beginning of last summer, and they aren’t perfectly polished. This doesn’t seem to bother my current students, and they love being able to stop and rewind. In fact, they seem to value this ability more than the opportunity to ask questions in the moment.
A couple students felt the pace of some of the lectures was too slow. I think that’s probably right, and at some point I should do some rerecording.
After every module, the students take a short online quiz. As I had hoped, the students found these helped them make sure they understood the core concepts presented in the video lectures. Even though they were voluntary, most of my students continue to work through them. That said, not everyone did, and performance on problem sets and the midterm has been strongly positively correlated with taking the quizzes. I’ve decided to make them mandatory when I teach this class again next month.
One student said he finds the quizzes particularly useful when he takes them an hour after watching the video. That way he’s testing his longer-term memory instead of just his in the moment understanding.
We switched from a business statistics book (Aczel) to a traditional econometrics textbook (Stock and Watson) this year, and most of the class seems pretty happy. The exceptions were one student who wanted more examples and another who said she hates all textbooks. Overall, this is a huge improvement over last year’s book which was fairly universally despised.
The class seems happy with the pace of the live sessions and how we work through problems, though it’s possible I didn’t do a good job eliciting feedback on this. Next time I need to ask them specific questions about the difficulty of the problems, the time I give them to work on them, and the speed with which we go over them.
Last year I had more traffic in office hours, but I also had a somewhat bigger class. They like that office hours are right after class so they can ask off-topic or longer questions. They also appreciate (and attend) my TA’s office hours which are Tuesday and Thursdays–the two days during the week when I don’t have office hours.
A week ago I assigned everyone in the class a buddy to talk with outside the classroom. During today’s feedback session I learned that my four off-campus students (the ones who are most isolated) have already been chatting about material over email. My on-campus students seemed intrigued, and I’m hoping they will start working together too.