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

This is #5 in our series on teaching: Course Evaluations

SC 95  #5. Course Evals: Course Organization

Are we organized and is it apparent?

Excerpts from the podcast via iTunes or StitcherSmartRadio


In this podcast and blog post we’ll look at course organization.

We are declaring the California drought over!


The instructor’s explanation of the course requirements

  • In our minds, we always know where we are going but our students might not share our understanding of the course plan.
  • This can be revealed to us by the types of questions we receive from our students.
  • How do we make sure that students read our syllabi?
    • Introducing your students to the syllabus during an early class is important.
    • Some professors will have quizzes on their syllabi.
    • Some professors will ask the student to sign an agreement stating that they have read the syllabi.

The instructor’s preparation for each class period

  • Don’t deviate from the syllabus too much because you will be sending a message that the syllabus doesn’t matter.
  • Be predictable.
  • Some students are highly organized and will be disrupted if you alter the course schedule.
  • Changing a due date may be seen by you as a kind gesture but may disrupt their schedule for another course.
    • Don’t mess with the order of the universe.
  • At the beginning of class it is very helpful for our students to show them where we are at in the course.
    • This illustrates that we are organized and have a plan for the course.
  • Putting together a good class period is like writing a good paper.
    • You start out with a thesis, a road map for the day, and close with a summary of the day.

The instructor’s command of the subject matter

  • Yes, this topic is under course organization.
  • When students look at us seeming prepared and organized or disorganized and scattered, they don’t say that’s an organized or disorganized teacher they may say that’s a knowledgable or ignorant teacher.
  • This becomes clear when student asks a question and you don’t know the answer.
    • Staying confident and self assured, even when you don’t know the answer will put the student at ease.
  • Disorganization can translate to: “This professor doesn’t know his or her  subject matter very well.”
  • “Teaching” the class before you teach the class can be very beneficial.
    • Doing this the night before will give you a better nights sleep!
    • This practice will give your mind some time to better prepare for your next class.

The instructor’s use of class time

  • We have to think about our presentation and be aware of our audience.
  • Discover ways to break up the communication of the lesson into various methods.
  • Avoid just talking to them the whole time.
  • If the direction of the class evolves to create something that is of greater value than your plan, go with it.
  • Preparation is not just rote, preparation is being present and being open to changing things up.
    • In the book: “Getting Things Done” by David Allen he refers to this as “Mind like water.”

The instructor’s way of summarizing or emphasizing important points in the class

  • It is important to reserve a minute or two at the end of class to review what we have covered today.
  • Keeping to the class end time is important.

How well do you do in returning students work in a timely manner?

  • Grade a steady manageable pace every day.
  • Get the papers off your desk and back to the students as soon as you can.
    • Our students need to know how well the did or not.
    • Until papers are returned,they will have anxiety.
  • This topic results in how well the student believe that you are organized.
  • If you wait too long to grade their work you have lost learning opportunities.

Course evaluations are really about student learning.

When things are going well, course evaluations tell us how our students are learning.


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

Thank you!

Daniel & David

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


Student Caring


SC 95  #5. Course Evals: Course Organization



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

NEXT FRIDAY – – – – – 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?