When we begin to get evaluation reminders, I take a few minutes to discuss the purpose of such evaluations with my students. As a graduate instructor, feedback helps shape me as a teacher. But we also talk about bias and audience, because these are topics we’ve already discussed many times throughout the session. Perhaps because of these discussions, my students often leave informative comments on evaluations. These comments, along with reflective essays and student discussions, have had a large impact on the development of my pedagogy.
Since beginning my MFA at Purdue University in 2011, I have taught 29 classes, including first-year composition courses in a variety of styles, professional and technical writing, and creative writing. Additionally, I taught two summer preparatory sessions for incoming students from traditionally underrepresented groups in the Polytechnic Institute. Each course has a unique set of evaluation questions, which presented a challenge in compiling useful data to present at a glance. In order to demonstrate my teaching across course types, I have put together a sample of data for presentation here.
The below charts represent student scores on a scale of 1-5. I tried to select both questions that were consistent across all courses (though at times the phrasing differed; I have standardized for presentation on this website), as well as questions that reflected important aspects of my pedagogy. To create this representative sample, I first created a random sample of ten courses, and from there removed any that were duplicate years. The remaining courses were:
- English 106 (First-Year Writing), Summer 2012
- English 420E (Business Writing for Entrepreneurs), Spring 2013
- English 205 (Creative Writing), Spring 2014
- English 106 for Polytechnic majors, Fall 2016
- English 106 for Polytechnic majors, Spring 2017
- English 421 (Technical Writing, distance learning), Summer 2018
These six courses represent a range of teaching during my time at Purdue. Because qualitative feedback is such an important part of student evaluations, I have also included excerpts here.
Overall, I would rate this instructor as…
“Alisha Karabinus has proven to be an extremely versatile teacher. She backs up informational lectures with a friendly nature and good humor without straying from the purpose of being in a writing classroom — to learn to write. I got the impression that she is very invested in seeing students do the best work they can, and learn how to write as comprehensively and clearly as possible. Her feedback was always useful and detailed and she was very insightful about material and ideas we discussed. Class activities always had a clear purpose and were completely relevant to the current project or topic.” (English 106 – First-Year Writing)
“The instructor presents information very well. I hope she will continue everything she does for future classes. Her class structure allows easy application for current and future situations regarding business writing and professionalism. Her advice is very insightful and encouraging. No sugar-coating, she keeps her course practical. Everything had a clear purpose.”(English 420 – Business Writing)
This course effectively challenges me to think.
“To be honest, when I started this course, I was very unsure of the methods and didn’t like the lack of guidelines at all. This was primarily because I wasn’t used to it and didn’t understand how you could grade something if we weren’t clear on EXACTLY what we were to do. However, once the course got going and I understood how things worked, I really liked the lack of guidelines and being able to think for myself. I really enjoyed unit 2 and this turned out to be my favorite course this semester.” (English 420 – Business Writing)
“Alisha is constantly giving the class chances to show themselves just how much they can stretch beyond their own limits and do something new through exercises and overall encouragement.” (English 205 – Creative Writing)
My instructor shows respect for diverse groups of people.
“I loved the atmosphere of the classroom. It made it really easy to voice an opinion and I felt like regardless of what was said, it was turned into a good discussion.” (English 205 – Introduction to Creative Writing)
“I enjoy how the instructor makes class enjoyable and tries to keep everyone full of energy by making us get up and move around in almost every class. Another thing is her positive attitude makes students feel more comfortable to share ideas and allows even the more shy students to participate in activities in class.” (English 420 – Business Writing)
This course improved my writing skills.
“She is an amazing professor who can really inspire student to do greater things. I was inspired to create a brand new white paper using Adobe Indesign and I was nominated by Alisha for the writing show case. I really appreciate her help and I believe an instructor who can really inspire students and encourage them to do great things are the best instructors in the world.” (English 420 – Business Writing)
“She does a very good job of explaining the material and the assignments. She is very respectful of everyone and their oppinions, and she treats us like mature adults which is very much appreciated. She listens to us and allows us to be creative and use our own voice. She is very motivating, I want to do well on every assignment, and I want her to continue to have respect for me and my work.” (English 106 – First-Year Writing)
Instructor feedback helped improve my writing.
“One thing I really liked is that I was able to get revisions before the work was due. It helped me see the ways I usually mess up easily and helped me improve my writing. I also enjoyed the visual production project. I liked being able to create that message and it was something I wouldn’t expect to do in an English class.” (English 106 – First-Year Writing)
“She puts what seems to be a huge amount of time into giving us constructive feedback. She seems to put a more than necessary effort into helping each of us individually succeed in this course. She is pretty tough, but I think that is good. She does not coddle us at all, but is very fair and practical in everything she does.” (English 106 – First-Year Writing)