UW Continuum College Instructor Resources

Assessing Your Own Teaching

UW PCE instructors are passionate about teaching and find great reward in helping their students develop their professional skills. To that end, instructors seek opportunities to learn and develop their own skills as educators. We encourage instructors to regularly reflect on their teaching. Reflection means taking a metacognitive and critical lens to our own practices – attending to what is working, what is not, and being solution-oriented. What follows are some suggestions.


Reflect weekly

Three- hour classes necessitate frequent and regular breaks for you and for your students. Use this time to reflect on what has gone well so far, what you wish to rework the next time you teach the course. Write your thoughts down because it will be too easy to forget them as soon as you dive into the next hour. Within a couple days of a class session, review your lesson plan, student work, and presentation materials. Make notes as to what went well, and what needs to be redesigned, and what course adjustments need to be made to the course going forward.


Collect feedback from students

Formative assessment

Formative assessment involves collecting student data to inform your subsequent teaching. There are a couple of ways you might go about this.

One option is to create micro-quizzes or end-of-class questions to assess student understanding. It’s a handy and low-stakes way to gauge how what students have taken away from your lesson, and may reveal areas of confusion or incomplete understanding.

Another option is to regularly invite constructive feedback from your students as to what is working well for them. Is the pace too fast or too slow? Are they finding it engaging? Do they have specific requests regarding class activities and lesson structure?

Regardless of what kind of information you’re collecting, it can be done low-tech (on half-slips of paper as students depart) or high-tech (using UWCatalyst, Moodle, or Canvas survey tools). The information you collect should guide you as you prepare your next lesson. You can see an example from an actual UW PCE course, where the instructor used a product called Socrative.

image capture from Socrative

Use student evaluations

Program Managers have tools for soliciting anonymous feedback from students, and they share the results with instructors.

Mid-Course Evaluations

Mid-course evaluations are web surveys consisting of only a few open-ended questions. They are employed with all new instructors, and may be used with more veteran instructors as well. Contact your Program Manager if you’d like to have them used in your class, or if you have specific questions you’d like added. After you read the feedback, we encourage you to acknowledge to your students that you’ve read their responses, and address what changes you feel you can make immediately.

End of Course Evaluations

End of Course evaluations consist of two parts: a “scantron” bubble sheet where students evaluate many aspects of instruction on a numerical scale, and a sheet of open-ended questions. Results from these are typically shared with instructors a few weeks after the course ends and can be especially valuable when making decisions about how to modify the course the next time it is taught.

Exit Surveys

Exit Surveys are open-ended questionnaires given to students upon completion of the full certificate. They are especially helpful in identifying gaps or redundancies in the whole curriculum. The feedback from the exit surveys are sometimes shared with Advisory Boards and in certificate instructors team meeting, so as to inform strategic decisions about the program curriculum.


Invite an observer to your course

Program Managers are often willing to sit in on some part of a lesson and provide feedback on your teaching. They may also be able to recommend a master teacher in your disciplinary area, or a colleague who has particular experience with pedagogy and lesson design. Regardless, it can be valuable to have an outsider provide coaching and mentoring.

Initiating such a request sets the stage for you to set the terms and framework to get the input and suggestions you want and need.


Observe yourself

This can be one of the hardest, but also one of the most powerful ways to reflect and improve upon your teaching. Webcams can be borrowed from the facilities managers, and many courses are already set up to record the screencast and audio of class sessions. You can also set up your own recording device provided you don’t use it for commercial or public use.


Observe someone else

Your Program Manager can often recommend fellow instructors who are master teachers, and inquire about visiting their courses. Seeing someone else teach can inspire you to try new things, both subtle and overt in your own course. You might even consider visiting a course that is in a totally different subject area!


Take advantage of professional development opportunities

Your Program Manager should be arranging Instructional Team meetings so that you and your program colleagues can compare your courses, teaching plans, challenges, and triumphs. In addition, UW PCE regularly schedules workshops for certificate instructors. There are, too, ample opportunities and resources for self-study and learning outside of UW PCE, some of which can be found while exploring this website!