Tag Archives: my wonderful students

Happy New Year!

All courses have begun! I have now met all ~430 of my my learners as classes and some individuals who have introduced themselves to me. I must say I am excited!!! There is such fantastic energy in all three of my courses that I’m very much looking forward to this term. I just came from intro psych (psyc 100 section 6) which is mostly comprised of students who are brand new to UBC… I’m pumped! In spite of the room feeling hot as an oven, my learners were engaged and with me the whole time. One student did fall asleep however, so I made the risky choice to go wake him. The point was that I want people to know that I expect them to be awake — I’m there trying to help them learn, so I want them to try to learn too. Luckily, he was a good sport about it; he introduced himself to me after class and we laughed about it.

This morning and last night I started my research methods courses (sections 1 and 901, respectively). This is an exciting, foundational course, and I got a fantastic vibe from my learners in return. Overall, there is recognition that the course is a lot of work, but I think I managed to convey that there’s a whole team of us here to support them, and more details will come. Many students introduced themselves to me personally, which I always appreciate, and during both class periods we laughed. I like laughter in class. Maybe I’ll make that a goal this year. Each class period should include laughter.

So overall I’m feeling great about this semester (in fact, I’m sitting here with a smile on my face as I write!). I feel prepared for the courses (broadly, at least!), and energized by my wonderful students. This is the start of something great.

Course Evaluation Season Arrives!

My plans for working on revisions to a manuscript were derailed this morning by the news that our Student Evaluations of Teaching from last term were released. Reading these evaluations is an emotional event for me, and this is particularly true on the first look (of many!). As always, I’m filled with anxiety and hesitation: Did my students like me? Did they appreciate the risks I took in class? In testing? Did I push them to learn — just enough or too much or not enough? Did they take the time to complete the evaluations? (fyi: 583 did — which represents 54% of all my students.)

For the first look today I examined the numbers, particularly the six UBC University Module Items (UMIs), just to get a feel for what they’re saying. Here are my impressions of these numbers for 2009/2010: Overall, I’m satisfied, with some exceptions (both high and low). Psyc 217, Research Methods, is a course I love and have now taught 4 times — and I’m pleased to report that my students rate it highly. Students in my Intro Psychology courses, both terms, rated me well but not exceptional, and I think that’s totally fair. It was my first time teaching those courses, and the numbers are in the range of those I received the first time I taught Psyc 217. Onward and upward!

Across all 6 courses I taught this year, my highest scores come from the “Concern for Students” UMI. This tells me that my deep value of caring for students and their learning is being witnessed in the eyes of my students, through my efforts to this put this value into action (e.g., see my teaching philosophy). Wonderful news!

My lowest ratings come from the “Fair Evaluations” item, and this concerns me. These numbers, particularly for this of all items, are difficult to interpret: Are my students perceiving the learning assessments to be very challenging (which I don’t mind), or are assessments perceived to be so demanding that success is unattainable (which I do mind)? I definitely need to ponder this one further as I dive more deeply into the data. I already know that my evaluation strategy for 208 will change considerably next year (e.g., the midterm was much too difficult and/or lengthy; peer evaluations of papers didn’t work as smoothly as I’d hoped). Of all my courses this year, 208 was the course rated most poorly by my students. I think a large part of that had to do with the complications with evaluations. It was a brand new, custom course that I designed, and although lots went well (I have loads of data on what great things students learned!), there is a lot of room for improvement.

Overall, I’m feeling pretty good about my student evaluations. They help me to see from students’ perspectives what I do well and where I need to focus my improvement efforts. Thanks to everyone who completed them! I will share further insights as I consider them further. Note that I’ll be working on revising my courses over the summer months. If you were a student in any of my courses this year, and are interested in giving some specific, constructive  feedback on any aspect of the course, please feel free to contact me to set up an appointment.

Happy New Year!

2009 is rapidly approaching completion… and I must say I’m quite ok with that! A year ago I didn’t have a dissertation written, was headed to an ill-timed teaching conference (NITOP, in Florida), and was anxiously preparing to interview for the Instructor-1 position I now hold. This has been a whirlwind year: I got the job (yay!), defended my dissertation, bought a condo with my husband, and spent four frantic yet satisfying months teaching in my first semester as tenure-track faculty at UBC. Amid all the craziness and exhaustion, I was thrilled (and relieved) to feel a sense of contentment with what I was doing. Teaching six times a week was a harried schedule, and many times I didn’t know how I could make it. But at the end of the day I was happy I was teaching. If I can go through all that in one semester and still love teaching, then this must be the perfect career for me!

As I head in to the new year, I’m feeling a typical mix of emotions. I’m eager and nervous to meet my new students next week; I’m nervous my syllabi won’t be copied on time (I couldn’t submit them until yesterday — yikes!); I’m hopeful that my schedule will be at least a little less hectic than last term. More than anything, I’m looking forward to being back in the classroom, starting fresh on another adventure, ready to learn as much to teach, and to strive each day to create opportunities for students to learn (if they so choose).


I am touched by the responses I’ve received (from both present and former students) to my last post, which described my challenges with teaching about an unfamiliar topic. Your kind words have touched my heart. My intent in posting that reflection was to ensure my blog reflects reality. There are many highs that come from teaching — indeed I love teaching people about psychology. But it certainly has its challenges. Again, thanks for for your compassion, and I look forward to our next class!