|Standard student evaluation||Pre- & post-course quizzes|
Standard student evaluation
Rutgers University has "student instructional rating forms". These
forms are filled out anonymously in class. A student takes
responsibility for collecting them and delivering them to the Teaching
Excellence Center. Below are the questions with responses for the
version of the course given in the Fall 1999 semester. 20 students
took the course, and responses were recorded for 18
students. Responses for the Spring 2000 semester were received from 23
students of 26 registered for the course. Other information shows that Fall
1999 was the first semester of college for a large portion of the
For questions 1-8, the numerical answers are labeled [1=STRONGLY DISAGREE, 3=NEUTRAL, 5=STRONGLY AGREE]. For questions 9 and 10, they are labeled [1=POOR 5=EXCELLENT].
|Question||Fall 1999 semester||Spring 2000 semester|
|1. The instructor was prepared for class and presented the material in an organized manner.||4.28||4.31||4.18||4.11||4.61||4.29||4.29||4.23|
|2. The instructor responded effectively to student comments and questions.||4.50||4.17||4.06||3.99||4.74||4.20||4.18||4.12|
|3. The instructor generated interest in the course material.||4.33||3.99||3.82||3.77||4.83||4.01||3.92||3.87|
|4. The instructor had a positive attitude toward assisting all students in understanding course material.||4.59||4.28||4.18||4.13||4.78||4.29||4.25||4.20|
|5. The instructor assigned grades fairly.||3.92||4.26||4.08||4.03||4.73||4.37||4.11||4.05|
|6. The instructional methods assisted student learning.||4.11||3.91||3.72||3.65||4.57||3.93||3.86||3.79|
|7. I learned a great deal in this course.||4.06||3.70||3.66||3.58||4.61||3.70||3.82||3.76|
|8. I had a strong prior interest in the subject matter and wanted to take this course.||3.00||2.51||3.13||3.12||4.23||2.56||3.12||3.04|
|9. I rate the teaching effectiveness of the instructor as||4.39||4.17||3.94||3.85||4.65||4.06||4.06||4.01|
|10. I rate the overall quality of the course as||4.06||3.81||3.72||3.65||4.61||3.79||3.77||3.71|
I should also note that there are opportunities for students to record comments on their answer forms. Comments in the fall were infrequent and not substantive. By contrast, many comments for the spring semester and most were strongly positive.
This course was a section of Math 103, Topics in Mathematics for the Liberal Arts. Note that almost none of the instructors in Math 103 are tenured or tenure-track faculty members. Most instructors of the course are hired on short-term contracts of one or several years duration or are coadjutants. It is not clear how to compare some of these answers. Also note that even though the number of students in Math 103 has increased a good deal in recent years, almost all (85% or more) of the students in our 100 level courses are in calculus or precalculus, and must have these courses for their intended majors. Most of our calculus and precalculus course are given in lectures with about 100 students, a very different environment. Students who take Math 103 are usually trying to satisfy a quantitative skills (graduation) requirement, and rarely take any course later which needs what's done in Math 103.
Pre- & post-course quizzes
Students were asked to complete the same questionnaire anonymously on
the first [PDF|PS|TeX] and last [PDF|PS|TeX] days of class.
In the fall 24 students took the pre-course version of the questionnaire,and 17 took the post-course version. Note that question #5 in the fall version was: "5. What is the greatest common divisor of 46 and 210?" This was replaced by a question asking students to compare the sizes of iterated exponentials, because I believed that would be more central to the math discussed in the course. Greatest common divisors were not mentioned very much, but certainly exponential expressions were dealt with numerous times.
In the spring 28 students took the pre-course version of the questionnaire, and 22 took the post-course version.
Clearly not everyone who took the first quiz then continued in the course, and clearly also some students in the course did not take the second quiz. The students were aware that this was an experimental course, and that their answers would have no bearing on their grades. Students were allowed to use calculators and notes while answering these questions.
The first 7 questions were "objective", dealing with mathematical statements. Of these, questions 1 through 5 concerned material covered thoroughly in the course, while the subject matter for 6 and 7 was less stressed.
|% correct answers to objective questions|
|Question #||Fall semester||Spring semester|
The attitudinal questions may be more interesting when the aims of this course are considered. The answers are also more difficult to analyze. I now regret that I didn't seek help constructing the format or writing the specific questions because I find the results difficult to evaluate. Possible confounding factors could include: self-selection of those who continued the course by agreement with the instructor's beliefs or ambitions, self-selection of those who continued with the course by belief in the importance of the subject matter and/or the social/political questions, and, finally, just misunderstanding some of the questions, whose wording may not be clear. Each question was accompanied by a request to "Support your answer with a sentence or two." Although all of these answers were read, a systematic conclusion is difficult to draw. Here only quantitative information will be given. The results may be of interest to those more experienced in such matters.
Each question is written below together with the weighted answers obtained. These weighted answers were computed in the following manner:
|Weighted answers to attitudinal questions|
|Text of the question||Fall semester||Spring semester|
|A. You should be able to copy any picture or music that you find on the Internet.||1.54||1.24||1.43||1.48|
|B. Suitable government authorities should be able to have access to your e-mail.||2.94||3.08||3.21||2.77|
|C. Personal financial and medical information should be totally secure from every inquiry.||1.63||1.24||1.32||.95|
|D. Math is needed to build rockets. In order to make decisions about business or government policy, most people don't need to know very much math or even very much about what math can do.||2.71||3.41||2.75||3.27|