Teaching for Tenure and Beyond: Strategies for Maximizing Your Student Ratings

By Franklin H. Silverman | Go to book overview

4

Communicating Course Goals, Aims, and Requirements Clearly
All student rating forms for teaching contain an item that requires students to make a judgment about how clearly course goals, aims, and requirements were communicated. If you don’t communicate these clearly to your students at the beginning of a course, a number of scenarios can result that are likely to adversely affect (at least a little) the ratings that they give you for this item and possibly, also, what they learn and your job security. The following are a few such scenarios:
• Students claim that they didn’t do well on an exam because they didn’t know (or didn’t know soon enough in advance) that there would be one that day.
• Students claim that they didn’t do well on an exam because it wasn’t made clear to them what kind of an exam it would be and/or what material would be covered.
• Students claim that they didn’t get an assignment in on time because it wasn’t clear to them when it was due.
• Students claim that they weren’t aware that their grade would be lowered in they had more than a certain number of absences.
• Students fail to understand a course’s aims and goals and, consequently, are less likely to study appropriately to achieve them.
• Students sue your college or university because their attorneys claim your syllabus is a contract that you breached and by doing so harmed them (e.g., by giving them a lower grade than the one they deserved).

The traditional way to communicate course goals, aims and requirements is through a printed syllabus that is distributed to students at the beginning of a course. Our focus in this chapter will be on both the makeup and

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