Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Evaluation

One or two of you might be aware that I am working as a part-time temporary Professor of Science at a college in the area. Two weeks ago, I was subjected to a course evaluation/observation in the Anatomy and Physiology course I am teaching (I also teach the lab section for a Biochemistry class, but I guess they don’t evaluate/observe labs). Besides the fact that this was my first-ever course evaluation, it also caused me much angst these past two weeks because the evaluator surprised me by showing up in lecture without notifying me first, as is required. So of course, this meant that I had not meticulously prepared my lecture and I was not dressed in my best clothes (even my best clothes look shabby next to everyone else there). But worst of all, I was simultaneously trying to rebuild my self-esteem as a professor along with my relationship with my students after the majority of them flunked their first lecture exam in the previous lecture period.

Needless to say, my students blamed me for their poor exam performance and I was ready to quit because of the resulting stress and frustration and, well, guilt, too.

But yesterday, I finally was given the results of this evaluation and it seems that I did reasonably well, despite everything. The evaluation itself is rather boring: It basically is a condensed version of my lecture notes about bones. But this is the summary paragraph; “This was a lecture packed with information, which was nevertheless delivered at a calm and relaxed pace. Prof. [my corporeal name] occasionally asked a question of the classroom, and several students would answer. She gave examples where appropriate, and illustrated her explanations with drawings on the blackboard.” The evaluator/observer surprised me with this; “It was obvious that Prof. [my corporeal name] is very knowledgeable in the subject, and she was doing a fine job of passing this knowledge on to her students.

Then, because she had to criticize me for something (or so I suppose), the evaluator also included this in her summary; “I believe that her lecture could be even more effective if she would make use of color transparencies to illustrate some of the more complex points, and to give the lecture an additional dimension.

This evaluation is a prime example of how people are easily fooled. First, because I am a molecular biologist, I know very little about bones except they hurt like a #$%@*!! when they are broken and second, ever since my first day on this job, I have been fighting with several faculty members at the school and also with the book rep to get transparencies, without success.

So the only criticism was for something I have no control over. Sometimes, I think this is the story of my life.


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4 Peer Reviews:

Blogger Rexroth's Daughter said...

Your evaluation sounds very good. Congratulations. At UC Santa Cruz the students evaluate the faculty performance. They tend to be very brutal. It is done anonymously, and the evaluations are handed in to the department chair, where they are kept on file. There have been several student publications on faculty performance-- which other students use to help them decide if they should enroll in a course or not. Also brutally honest. Having an evaluator with some idea of what s/he is looking for in teaching skills is quite a luxury!

6:28 PM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Thanks, dharma bums, I guess it does sound good after all. Besides the fact that my evaluator showed up in my lecture out of the blue, unannounced, I was also annoyed by the transparency comment, grr.

This was the institution evaluation, but speaking of student evals, I will be subjected to that at the end of the semester. I actually have been evaluated by students before so there isn't much they can say that surprises me (I have a large file of student evals that I saved in the unlikely event that I might need them for a job interview). If I recover from the shock of what my students will probably say about me on their upcoming evals, I might share some of their comments on my blog since students write the darnedest things! as they say.

8:18 AM  
Blogger DenverDarling said...

Congratulations! That's kind of ironic that he/she mentioned the transparancies. Maybe that will serve as some fodder for you to actually get some from the dept?

8:24 AM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Hiya, DD, it's good to see you peeking in here again!

I thought the transparency comment was enormously ironic, and I actually did laugh despite (my perception of) the seriousness of the situation. I did tell my evaluator about the "transparency situation" last night in our post-evaluation conference so it has been noted and the dept now can deal with it, as they should have six weeks ago. But due to my noisemaking about this issue, I actually managed to get some transparencies, finally .. the day before that particular lecture, I was given an envelope of unlabeled transparencies. I have been a lazy bum and have not sorted them all and organized them by topic yet (I am only working PT, what else do I have to do with the rest of my time, right? Nevermind that there are roughly 300 to look at!). As the mysterious "they" say, "be careful what you wish for because you might get it!"

9:59 AM  

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