Statistics don’t tell the whole story.

I just got back my student evaluations from 2013 Spring / Summer. The class was Introduction to Public Policy, and I had about 13 students. It was a really interesting class. Like, every week, about 8 people would show up, but it was always a different group of 8 people. And different discussions between different people was at times difficult to navigate. Anyway, I’ll try to use what they thought of my class as a brief analysis for why statistics don’t tell the whole story.

First, the big picture:

2013 WSU Spring Summer PS 2410

Most of my students said the course was very good or excellent, with none saying it was fair or poor. Most of my students said they learned a great deal, and most rated my teaching of the course as excellent. At first glance, this class liked me.

Students were interested in the subject matter of public policy more than they wanted to take the course. That seems pretty normal…

What about what my students really thought about me? As you read the question, the median response is “Strongly Agree.”

I had three home runs, so to speak, with all students responding “strongly agree.” Q. 14: The instructor discussed differing views about material when appropriate. Q15: The grading procedures were explained at an appropriate point in the course. Q16: Evaluation and grading methods were fair.

Further, other assignments and reading contributed to student understanding.

But statistics don’t tell the whole story. Without the examples of my lectures in the teaching tab, for example, these statistics don’t say much about how I teach. Further, some students didn’t take the survey, and their feedback may have changed what the data suggests.

By the way, there is a much larger sample with basically the same statistical results in the teaching tab, as well as my teaching philosophy.

As this is the first year not teaching in years (now a PhD Candidate–available for Assistant Professor positions for Fall 2014), I hope to get back In the classroom soon!

I welcome collaboration on teaching in higher education.


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