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Teachers’ Assessment: Can students’ end of the year feedback empower the identity of back to school - teachers?

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By Vassilakou Evangelia

 Introduction/The big questions

 

Typically, there have been two main approaches to teacher evaluation, namely the practice-based assessment referring to classroom observations by experienced peer teachers and the teacher value-added assessment based on students’ test scores. Students’ evaluation of teachers also occurs during accreditation periods of higher education institutions such as colleges and universities. With this in mind, here comes the big question “Should there be a shift in teachers’ evaluation system in EFL classes so that teachers can be evaluated not only by administrators, directors of studies or other colleagues but also by their own students?”  The subsequent question that arises is “Are students competent enough to provide their teachers with accurate judgments on teaching quality?”

 

A response to the big questions

 

Students’ feedback can be an effective tool in improving the quality of teaching as long as certain requirements are met. In other words, the time and the manner evaluation is done are key elements for successful results. More precisely, evaluation needs to be done by students having more than 75% attendance to have a more inclusive image of the teacher’s performance and quality of delivery of instruction. Additionally, the feedback forms should include open-ended questions (apart from a Likert scale) for students to be given the chance to express their ideas by having a voice.  They should also focus on particular aspects of lessons; if teachers ask the right questions they will get the appropriate feedback.  Lastly, it is essential feedback forms be completed anonymously for answers to be honest and be age-appropriate, that is  students of an intermediate or advanced level should be given forms with Likert scales whereas younger students forms with simplified questions and pictorial representations known as emoticons. 

 

The key to making students’ feedback meaningful

 

Following an accurate feedback procedure may not be enough as making students feedback meaningful is of equal importance. In particular, before the feedback forms are distributed, the teacher is expected to explain to students that his / her improved performance depends, to a great extent, on their honest answers. That honest answers will result in more reliable and valid findings. After this initial step, the teacher can share some of the findings with the class and have a whole class discussion about his / her intention to use them to overcome possible weaknesses. Sharing findings with students and engaging them in the process of assessment may foster a culture of trust between the teacher and the students. (www.gse.harvard.edu). Table 1 shows 10 basic generic criteria to be taken into account for a more meaningful feedback gathering.

 

Table 1 Basic Criteria for quality teaching and feedback forms

Effective communication

Demonstration of a high level of commitment

Student management skills

Demonstration of expertise and defined strategies

Zeal for continuous professional development

Modern teaching techniques

Effective motivation of students

Contributions to wider school activities (publicizing students’ projects / debate clubs)

Provision of assistance and consultation

Evaluation tolerance and reflection on constructive criticism

 

 

 

Gathering students’ feedback

 

Teachers can use the table below or adapt it by adding their own questions for gathering students’ feedback which is based on a 5-point Likert scale (adapted table https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

 

Table 2

A sample of a feedback form given in class for intermediate/advanced students

Rate each attribute of the teacher by rating 1-5 in the table according to your assessment of the teacher’s performance on a five point scale given below

 

5 = Excellent, 4 = Good, 3 = Average, 2 = Poor, 1 = Very Poor

 

 

ATTRIBUTES OF THE EFL TEACHER - PART A

 

 

RATING

Organization and preparedness of the classes

1 2 3 4 5

Appropriate use of different teaching aids (ppt, interactive board)

1 2 3 4 5

Clarity of instructions

1 2 3 4 5

Clarity of presentation of material to be taught

1 2 3 4 5

Communicates effectively

1 2 3 4 5

Recommends additional learning resources (journals, sites)

1 2 3 4 5

Provides timely written or oral corrective feedback

1 2 3 4 5

Creates a friendly learning environment

1 2 3 4 5

Encourages project-based learning

1 2 3 4 5

Encourages extra- curricular activities (cultural or academic)

1 2 3 4 5

Provides assistance on students’ performance (scaffolding)

1 2 3 4 5

Is available for after class consultation

1 2 3 4 5

Makes lessons interactive

1 2 3 4 5

Encourages students to participate and ask questions

1 2 3 4 5

Indicates important points to remember

1 2 3 4 5

Provides students with strategies (exams)

1 2 3 4 5

Develops students’ critical thinking skills

1 2 3 4 5

Stimulates interest in material and uses authentic material

1 2 3 4 5

Treats students with respect

1 2 3 4 5

Has class management abilities to maintain discipline

1 2 3 4 5

Acts as a role model

1 2 3 4 5

Adjusts pace of class to the students’ level of understanding

1 2 3 4 5

 

OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS  PART B

 

What do you think is your teacher’s greatest strength?

 

………………………………………………………………………….

………………………………………………………………………….

 

What do you think your teacher’s weaknesses are? (if any)

 

…………………………………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………………………………..

 

What would you like to change about this course and why?

 

………………………………………………………………………….

………………………………………………………………………….

 

What suggestions do you have to improve your teacher’s way of teaching?

 

………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………..

 

 

 

 

Pedagogical implications/conclusion

 

Considering all the above, language teachers are encouraged to adopt a growth mindset and incorporate into their classes, towards the end of the year,  meaningful students’ feedback forms to help them refine their teaching practices, increase their  delivery effectiveness, students’ achievements and engagement levels. Gathering students’ feedback can function as an effective teaching tool for improvement and alternative performance measure. If teachers keep listening to their students’ voices and make post-evaluation improvements, they send a strong signal that they are committed to the teaching profession and ready for a dynamic come back to school time.

 

Further reading

https://cft.vanderbilt.edu 

Gathering feedback from students - Barbara Gross Davis

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