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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Evaluating VID Course Evaluations
I picked up my evaluations from the course I taught in spring, Visual Interface Design today. I'd seen the averaged numerical values for certain things (like value of the course, instructor's ability to communicate, instructor's concern for students, etc.) earlier. And the numbers were pretty good: overall, I (and the course) averaged nearly a 4 on a scale of 1-5. Which isn't too bad, considering it was my first time teaching it and, according to people who've taught this class before, a really tough class to teach.

But when you look at the individual evaluations, wow, what a range! A small handful of students really hated the class. I mean, really hated it. Ones and twos for all the evaluation fields. "A complete waste of time" one of them wrote. Ouch. But then, on the other side was another handful that really liked it, fours and fives for the evaluations. Good, constructive comments. The bulk of the class was in the middle, threes and fours, but mainly positive.

Some of the comments echoed my own self-evaluation, others were different. Some thought the projects were too redundant. And on reflection, maybe the two big projects were; I'd probably only do one of them next spring (if I'm asked to teach this class again). I'd probably put something really out there in its place.

One of the problems with teaching this particular class (as it fits into CMU in general) is that it's the only course that I know of that teaches the design process as it is used professionally. So you are stuck having to be sure you thoroughly cover it. Or else, like every other class, you just let the students come up with their own process and figure they will learn a more rigorous process in the field. I'm of two minds about this, and I obviously chose the first approach of giving them process. Maybe too much process. Next time (if there is a next time), perhaps I'll just bare bones the process part and see what happens. I've seen what happens when you do this in professional work and it often ain't pretty. But perhaps schoolwork is different: the purpose isn't to come up with a viable product, the purpose is to learn. And that often means making mistakes and doing it the wrong way for a while.

posted at 07:00 PM in teaching | comments (0) | trackback (0)


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