Monday, August 29, 2005

Course evaluations

I got my evaluations back from the Bio 152 labs I taught last spring. The numerical results were good, but not far from the averages, so I was curious to see what comments I got. Comments are written on the same forms, but are transcribed by mute monks (or maybe student hourlies?) in order to remove any identifying information and sent to the chair of the department for review before we get them back.

The departmental chair said: "Students were clearly impressed with your efforts to assist them in learning the material and your casual approach that created an atmosphere conducive to learning. Very good job!"

I had a total of 34 students enrolled, though quite a few disappeared by the end of the semester. I got 26 written evaluations.

I was (these are all quotes, so I'll omit the quotation marks for clarity):

  • laid-back
  • happy
  • never mean
  • to damn sexy [sic]
  • good at explaining information when asked
  • a cool guy
  • a really good TA
  • very interested in the subject
  • able to help us in a way that would lead us to the answer without giving it away
  • always willing to explain things that were confusing
  • helpful
  • clear
  • a good TA with humor
  • a fun TA
  • always in a good mood
  • enthusiastic
  • a funny bastard
I "tried to get [them] to appreciate really boring stuff." I also "really did seem to enjoy teaching, and it made the class fun." I even "made it very easy to come to lab."
Of course, some felt I should make my answers "more concise and to the point," the quizzes were "a little too difficult at times," and I guess someone thought I was "pretty untimely and slightly disorganized." For the record, the same person who made that last comment also "enjoyed [my] class," thought I was a "cool guy" and said I was "really good at explaining information when asked."

Several people wrote something like this: "Josh was a really good TA. He explained things when we didn't understand them and if he didn't know the answer he would look it up.

Over all, I'll declare it a success, and a slight improvement over last semester's evaluations.

One student would even recommend me to his/her brother.

I like this comment best:

Josh really cared about the subject and it showed in class. He kept it upbeat and used his sense of humor to keep a light-hearted and fun atmosphere. His knowledge of the subject in combination with this made it easy to learn. Great Job!
I attribute my success to liberal application of Tom Glazer and Marais and Miranda's bizarre educational music. Kids totally dig it. Several commented on the "50s music."