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

This is #6 in our series on teaching: Course Evaluations

SC 96  #6. Course Evals: Communication

How well are we understood?

Excerpts from the podcast via iTunes or StitcherSmartRadio



The instructor’s ability to make clear and understandable presentations

  • “I think I am communicating well, but are my students actually understanding what I am saying?”
  • How can we discover what our students are actually understanding?
    • If everyone is missing an important point, we might look to how we are teaching it.
    • At the beginning of a class ask: “Here’s what we discussed last time, explain this to me.”
      • That provides a quick view of how the information is being retained.
    • If we acknowledge affirmatively after a student answers a verbal question, everyone else really takes note because they know it is important to us.
    • Give your class an ungraded quiz during a class session. Prof: “Class, please write down your understanding of ____________.” The papers are collected and reviewed after class. This results in our understanding, without the pressure of a grade for the students, about how well they are learning.


The instructor’s use of examples or illustrations to clarify course material

  • We should expect to explain thing more than once.
  • When we tell or story or use an illustration, we need to make sure that we are not just entertaining, but really driving home the specific point.
    • This is another way of teaching the same information.
  • In class time is precious, don’t waste it.

The instructor’s use of challenging questions or problems

  • Our questions are best when we evoke thinking and discussions from what we ask.
  • When students don’t believe that we don’t know the answer, they have an opportunity to contribute.
  • Learn to live in the silence after you ask a question.
    • When we ask a difficult question, we need to resist giving away the answer.
    • Our “eyes” can betray us if we are scanning their faces for someone who wants to speak. It can stop everyone else from thinking.
    • It is in the silence where we give our students time to process and formulate an answer.
    • If you step in, you are shutting them down.
    • This practice gives birth to great conversations!
  • “Communication” on the course evaluation also means, “Have I, the student had a chance to communicate?”
  • Does the professor appreciate my communication?
  • Silence is a way of rewarding your engaged students.


The instructor’s use of enthusiasm for the course material

  • Like our students, we are tired at the end of an academic term.
  • How do we get enthused when we are not?
  • It is obvious to our students when we are not excited about the class.
  • Professor: “I am not enthusiastic anymore.” “This is my job and I have to do it today.”
  • If we are having an enthusiasm problem, we need to do something different.
    • Take a risk.
    • Try something different.
    • Robert Frost: “In poetry, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” This is important for the teacher as well.
  • My students think that I am playing music at the beginning of class to entertain and identify with them. This is not the case, it is to energize me!


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 Communication



SC 96  #6. Course Evals: Communication



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

NEXT FRIDAY – – – – – 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?