I should have asked them to give me a letter grade or a mark out of 100.
I just finished tabulating first-year Advertising students’ evaluation of my Writing for Marketing (MCOM5) course—and the feedback is pretty decent.
Next year, I’m going to ask students to give me a letter grade between an A and an F, so I will get a better feeling of my overall success. However, if I were to hazard a guess, I suppose student comments from this semester probably amount to a B+.
Of the 26 Advertising students who completed my end-of-year evaluation, 25 said they are more conscientious about business writing and document formatting. A total of 22 said their writing has improved (four said it has improved somewhat) while 17 said they feel they are stronger writer-editors (eight said they feel they are somewhat stronger).
Twenty-four of 26 students said I provided enough variation in my teaching styles to ensure they effectively learned and enjoyed the course material. Meanwhile, all respondents said they felt respected by me.
On Day 1, I always promise students that MCOM5 will not be “just another English class.” In the evaluation, I asked students if I lived up to that pledge and everyone who answered the question said that I had.
“I really enjoyed how you went the extra mile to teach us things that some people might find boring,” said one student, referring to the challenge of teaching effective writing, formatting, grammar and punctuation. “I was always engaged with, and intrigued by, our class material, particularly because of the way it was presented.”
Of course, not all students’ comments were positive, and I’ll list some of them in a moment. But please allow me a few lines of self-indulgence.
When asked to describe what they liked most about the course, students’ top compliment was its interactivity; they said I made learning fun by demonstrating a passion for the subject, providing hands-on lessons, and by liberally dishing out chocolate prizes during numerous learning games.
“He really got us involved, so everyone felt included,” said one student.
Respondents also said they enjoyed my authenticity as an educator, my “relaxed and approachable” demeanour, and my “genuine interest” in them.
“He was very thoughtful and, if we needed anything, he was always available,” said one student.
“Frank always had an exciting lesson for us to learn and he was straightforward with what he wanted on assignments and projects,” said another.
Now for the negative comments:
- Students said it’s sometimes hard to hear me.
- They have trouble reading my messy writing on their assignment evaluations.
- Eight students said they didn’t like the grammar reports, which have students investigate and report on their own writing challenges.
- Six said they didn’t like the persuasive writing assignment in letter, email, and memo format.
- Six said they would like more writing-subject freedom in their eight-week blogging assignment.
Conversely, two students said they loved the blogs because they were able to be creative and choose what they wanted to write about.
Speaking of blogs, 14 respondents said the blog was their favourite assignment. This makes my teacher’s heart sing because I’m convinced blogs are the perfect vehicle to reinforce business writing and formatting essentials, critical thinking skills, the importance of using evidence to back up one’s claims, and reflective learning.
Students may not have enjoyed the grammar reports (see bullet point 3), but 21 out of 26 said they learned something by completing them.
While four students said they didn’t enjoy evaluating another classmate’s blog post each week, 16 said the exercise helped reinforce effective writing and formatting rules.
I’ve figured out easy solutions to the first two of the five student complaints about MCOM5: I will use my portable public speaker in the larger classrooms, and to deal with my messy writing, I’ve taught myself Adobe Acrobat Pro.
I’m transforming my evaluation forms into writeable PDFs, so all my evaluation form remarks will be typewritten. I’ll email students these completed forms, thereby saving trees and providing students with an electronic record of my evaluations of their work—all while making it easy for them to decipher my comments.
The grammar reports will stay, but I have some ideas for fixing them that will make them more effective (thanks, Christian Allen!). I also don’t plan to provide more latitude on the blogging assignment. And the persuasive messages assignment (bullet point 4) is here to stay. Maybe I can find a way to teach it better. It was the assignment with the lowest average mark, so part of students’ displeasure may be because they didn’t understand how to do it as well as other assignments.
I think this is my last post for a while. A stack of end-of-year assignments beckons and in it lies another promise I made to students: that I would grade all assignments within a week of submission.
A good teacher keeps his promises—particularly one who aspires to raise his average from a B+ to an A+.