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Improving Your Course

Whether you are designing a new course or examining ways to improve a course that you’ve taught before, it is important to utilize strategies to gauge where your course is successful and where it can be improved. Gaining an understanding of what your students have learned, getting feedback from students, and conducting peer reviews are all ways to evaluate your course and teaching methods.

Collecting Feedback on Your Teaching Methods

Getting feedback as you teach allows you to gauge what is and is not working well in the classroom so that you can adapt in real time. Classroom Assessment Techniques, for instance, provide the instructor feedback on whether or not students understand course material so that adjustments can be made before the end of the term. Other assessment methods include portfolios, minute papers, polling, brief student surveys, and more. 

Utilizing a variety of reviewers can bring different strengths and areas of focus to the evaluation of teaching. As you select your reviewer(s), consider what each group can best assess and what would be most helpful for meeting your goals.

  • Colleagues: Colleagues with disciplinary knowledge are well-equipped to understand the objectives of a lesson and discuss content and presentation choices. Colleagues can also possess institutional knowledge that can help contextualize a lesson.
  • Students: While students are not subject matter experts and are not qualified to evaluate teachers, they can share their experiences, which must be considered through the lens of potential biases.
  • Recent alumni: Past students can help evaluate whether changes to a course structure are effective or address their feedback. They can also comment on what lessons they found especially helpful or memorable months or years after the course. 
  • Academic leadership: Academic leadership are often involved in summative assessments of teaching but may be invited to perform formative assessment as well. 
  • Faculty Development team: As part of GW’s Instructional Core team, our team specializes in higher education pedagogy and effective teaching practices across different course contexts and disciplines. We can help facilitate classroom observations, peer review sessions, and mid-semester student feedback sessions. To learn more or set up a session, please complete our Request a Classroom Observation form.

Request a Classroom Observation

Evaluating and Maintaining an Online Course

As you work through the online course design process, the Instructional Design team will guide you on best practices to ensure that your course meets Quality Matters (QM) standards. GW utilizes the Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric (accessible QM Rubric) to evaluate the design of online and blended courses. QM focuses on course organization, integrated design of the course, learning activities, technology, and accessibility. It does not focus on course delivery or academic content. Once you begin teaching, you can always add additional course materials or learning activities. Here are some tips on how to maintain your online course once it begins.

Next Steps

Getting off to a strong start each semester can help set a positive tone for what follows. If you are interested in incorporating more active learning and engagement techniques into your class, we offer the Teaching Network for Early Career Faculty, Teaching Day, and a variety of specialized teaching workshops throughout the year. We can also meet with faculty or departments for more individualized consultations.

Request a consultation or class visit

Teaching and Course Design Workshops