This blogpost and podcast is for our colleagues in higher educations, professors, the world over.

This is #2 in our series on teaching: Course Evaluations

SC 92  #2. Course Evals: Reactions & Emotions

How we react and feel to what our students say. 

Excerpts from the podcast via iTunes.

Below the bottom line. How we feel about our course evaluations.

  • A warning – we are going to concentrate on some of the more negative aspects of course evaluations in this post / podcast.
  • BTW – Just because your course evaluations are wonderful, don’t think that you have nothing to work on. Analyze to discover what went right and where some improvements could be made.
  • FEAR: – How some of us open our course evaluations.
  • When the evaluations are poor, we might ask: “Am I a failure?”
  • It is important to divorce the evaluation from your personality – no, not always easy to do.
  • Am I a bad teacher or is this a case of a course that did not go well?
  • We want to step back and ask: How could the course have gone better?

I know my subject but I can’t seem to communicate it to my students.

  • Often, difficulties can come from a lack of engagement with the students.
  • Despite or maybe even because of your expertise, your having trouble communicating that expertise at the appropriate level.
  • We can all benefit from resources, both on campus and in books on this topic.
    We have both benefitted from the book The Courage to Teach, by Parker Palmer.
  • Teaching is not just about communicating our expertise but communicating it to the people in the classroom.
  • We must remember what it is like to not know – what we know!
  • Our challenge is to increase their knowledge of the topic to a higher level from when the course began.

If your place of business has an active faculty development committee, take of advantage of those resources. They can provide you with very valuable analysis about how effective your teaching skills are. Another approach is to sit in on a colleagues class. We can all learn from each other. Attending an out-of-town conference on teaching excellence can be very beneficial.

What are my students saying about me?

  • We all want to connect and everyone has the desire to be liked.
  • Convert the comments in your evaluations from, what are my students saying about me to what are my students saying about their learning experience.

What are my colleagues saying about me?

  • Your colleagues opinion may matter a great deal because they often get a vote about your promotion or tenure.
  • If you are worried about this to a high degree, our advice is: focus on the students. Let your students learning speak for itself because that is why you are there.
  • Do you catastrophise?
    • Are my days here numbered?
    • You read your course evaluations and say, is this it? Is it all over?
  • The people whose days are numbered are the people who are convinced that they don’t have to change or improve.
    • I’m fine, the evaluations are wrong.
    • My evaluations are fine – too bad! This is the way I do things.
  • If you take a pro active stance and say, “What can I do to improve?” That is a much better position to be in.
  • This is the time once again, to become a student.

How do I turn this around while preserving my personal dignity?

  • Your personal dignity may be taking a beating if your evaluations are bad.
  • Professor Pecoraro, how are you doing today? Well, it would appear that I suck!
  • Now is the time to dig down deep inside, assess how humbled you are by this experience, and discover how to “Make it OK.”
  • This is an opportunity learn to grow, change, and turn the situation around.
  • The environments we come from, like graduate school, don’t honor failure.
  • Daniel: In our college experience almost no one is an expert on teaching. There are very few natural wonderful teachers.
  • Find a colleague to walk this tricky path with you.

We are all in this together.

 Course Evaluations


Right or control click here to download the MP3 of the Podcast.

SC 92 #2. Course Evals: Reactions & Emotions





In this series we are going to talk about what is usually not discussed publicly, our course evaluations.

NEXT FRIDAY – – – – – SC 93 #3. Course Evals: Focus #1: What do you do well?
Acknowledging our strengths as Professors.

SC 94 #4. Course Evals: Focus #2: What are your trends?
Learning from an analysis over time.

SC 95 #5. Course Evals: Course Organization
Are we organized and is it apparent?

SC 96 #6. Course Evals: Communication
How well are we understood?

SC 97 #7. Course Evals: Faculty-Student Interaction
How do our students perceive us?

SC 98 #8. Course Evals: Grading
How is our grading perceived?

SC 99 #9. Course Evals: Learning
Do our students believe they are learning?

SC 100#10. Course Evals: Student Engagement
Are our students engaging?


We need your feedback so we may continue to fulfill our mission statement and help students, the world over.

Thank you!

Daniel & David