Midterm class review program implemented to evaluate Mac courses

By Kaia Arthur

This semester, 11 professors are using the newly implemented midterm class interview program to evaluate their students’ opinions of their teaching.The faculty-guided process allows professors to receive feedback from students before the end of the semester by having colleagues interview their students.

The evaluation begins with a discussion between two professors from outside the department, and the class’ professor. They discuss teaching methods and challenges unique to the class. After, they talk with students during a class period. One professor conducts the interview, and the other records what the students say.

By posing questions through small- and large-group discussions, they learn the students’ opinions of the professor. In the following weeks, the interviewers present the general consensus of the students’ views to the professor, who can then use this information to reevaluate his or her teaching methods.

“The best part is when the faculty member comes back to the students and can say, ‘This is what I’ll change’ or, ‘This is what I’ll keep the same and why,'” said Jan Serie, the director of the Center for Scholarship and Teaching. “The professor can make these changes at the midterm instead of waiting until getting student evaluations at the end of the semester to see what they thought.”

Serie decided to implement the program this semester, she said, after seven professors successfully piloted it last year. The interdepartmental group examined the broad question of how professors could improve their teaching, and decided to focus on new programs for peer review.

They found that the MCI program, often referred to as Small Group Instructional Diagnosis on other campuses where it is used, creates a balance of peer review and student evaluation.

“Even people who were skeptical were converts after they saw how the process connects the instructor and students. It opens dialogue in a way you can’t do with a paper process,” Serie said.

Members of the pilot groups will be serving as interviewers and scribes this semester. These professors are also currently training 13 new instructors.

Serie said she anticipates that the program’s expansion will allow professors to avoid the schedule conflicts that arose this semester and will ultimately create a functional system through which instructors can sign up for interviews by the second week of each term.