Improving course evaluations to improve instruction and complex learning in higher education
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Recent research has touted the benefits of learner-centered instruction, problem-based learning, and a focus on complex learning. Instructors often struggle to put these goals into practice as well as to measure the effectiveness of these new teaching strategies in terms of mastery of course objectives. Enter the course evaluation, often a standardized tool that yields little practical information for an instructor, but is nonetheless utilized in making high-level career decisions, such as tenure and monetary awards to faculty. The present researchers have developed a new instrument to measure teaching and learning quality (TALQ). In the current study of 464 students in 12 courses, if students agreed that their instructors used First Principles of Instruction and also agreed that they experienced academic learning time (ALT), then students were about 5 times more likely to achieve high levels of mastery of course objectives and 26 times less likely to achieve low levels of mastery, according to independent instructor assessments. TALQ can measure improvements in use of First Principles in teaching and course design. The feedback from this instrument can assist teachers who wish to implement the recommendation made by Kuh et al. (2007) that universities and colleges should focus their assessment efforts on factors that influence student success.
KeywordsCourse evaluation Teaching quality First principles of instruction Academic learning time Complex learning Higher education Authentic problems
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