Evaluations on Term Paper Topics - Do it Right the First TimeIt's not that I don't enjoy writing my evaluations, I really do. However, I'm finding that I'm getting to the point where I want to take the 'do it right the first time' approach.
Do you remember when I was in grad school and we used to do them on a whiteboard? Yes, we did all sorts of things there and they were quite impressive. And I believe they are still used in some type of organization.
Now, we use a lot of different ways to evaluate students but one of the main ones is looking at the topics of the papers and how much time is spent on that topic. By the way, I know some students write about 'one topic' and that's it, but I find that students will spend a lot of time on a topic if it is not too wide or broad. Take for example, writing about a single event; this is not a great way to teach because the student is not getting the full story.
So now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about how to improve this area and one of the most important things I've learned is to get into the mindset of a teacher. For example, I like to do evaluations by watching my students work with the information I provide. You see, I know how difficult it can be for a student to sit down and actually work through an assignment and come up with their own conclusion. They are likely to do what I call 'audit mode.'
In audit mode they will look at everything I say and analyze whether or not they think I'm making sense. They will listen intently to everything I say, ask questions, and answer them in detail. This often causes me to over-analyze the issue. And as a result, I use this kind of evaluation to test whether my thinking is sound.
If they are doing this, I know they are going to be motivated to learn. Also, if they are not, I know I should use other ways to evaluate them such as giving a small piece of the assignment or giving the students some short quizzes. These are both ways that force them to study hard.
One other big takeaway is to make sure you're not being overzealous. Make sure you don't think you are doing too much with the evaluation. In fact, just make sure you are putting enough work into it and don't try to over analyze it.
Remember that your evaluation should just be a continuation of the original idea. It doesn't need to be more elaborate than that. It should be a good way to show your students that you have some validity in your teaching and that you have some sort of reliability.