Looking Back to Move Forward
After you've submitted grades and before you start your summer research projects, you might consider taking a few moments to reflect on teaching successes and missed opportunities from this academic year and to use that reflection to plan for next year.
- Look back over your syllabus. When did the course progress more quickly than you had anticipated? Where did students have problems that caused you to slow down a bit in your presentation of material? Make notes for adjusting the pace of a course while it's still fresh in your mind.
- Invite your preceptors, AIs, lab instructors, and graders to share their thoughts about the course you taught together. Which concepts, units, or texts did students find particularly engaging? Which did they find challenging? Which problem sets, quizzes, exams, or other assignments did students ace and which did they bomb? With this information, you can make informed changes—both additions and deletions—to course content and assignments.
- Think back on your best class sessions this semester. What did these sessions have in common? How did you stimulate student engagement with course material? How might you prepare in order to maximize the incidence of such sessions in the future?
- Read student evaluations in the context of this information gathering and reflection. Doing so creates an interpretive framework for the qualitative and quantitative data provided by evaluations and can provide a helpful perspective for critical or unmeasured responses.
- Refine objectives for next year's course. What did students learn in your course this year? What evidence do you have for this assessment? Is it what you had expected or hoped they would learn? Making connections between your expectations and student learning will help you determine what you want your students to get out of a course the next time around.
- Consider moments of conflict or tension in the semester. What might you have done to avoid those moments? How might you have responded differently? Difficult moments are easier to deal with when we respond not on an ad hoc basis but in reference to a consistent and considered pedagogy.