Discovering Evidence of Effective Instruction

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By Melissa Brown
Nursing Department
Delaware Technical Community College
Owens Campus

As a new instructor I am constantly looking for ways to determine if my teaching was effective and if the students are “getting it.” I am always looking for ideas to strengthen my lessons. What better way than to ask the students for input?

One idea that was recently suggested to me was to ask students a question and have them answer anonymously. This method allows students to answer honestly and provide constructive criticism about clinical, lecture and learning activities.

In clinical, I asked two questions; “What is one thing you wish your instructor knew?” and “What is one thing would you like to do in clinical?” These questions are asked toward the end of the semester when the students have a good idea of what the clinical experience involves. From the responses, I have received excellent feedback about how students learn in clinical and also what they would like to see done differently.

In the classroom I ask the students to write on a separate piece of paper one thing they learned and one thing they would like clarification about. I find these questions beneficial in helping my adjust my lesson plans. In addition to providing feedback they also allow me to review specific content at the beginning of the next class.

Also, in the clinical setting, students are asked to complete concept maps that help the instructor to determine if the student is critically thinking about various concepts (e.g., perfusion, oxygenation, fluid and electrolytes) related to their specific patient and how each concept affects the other (e.g., how perfusion affects oxygenation). This allows the instructor to really understand a student’s thought process and where the student may need more information.

All of these evaluation strategies have been very helpful in the determination of how effective my teaching has been and also how the students are progressing in the critical thinking process.

I don’t think any of these ideas are new, but for a novice instructor I feel it is very important to have some idea of the effectiveness of my teaching. The best way to get feedback is directly from the students. Students are the ones that will benefit from improved and effective teaching strategies. Why not allow them to provide input?

Students have the potential to provide new ways of thinking about how an activity is completed and whether or not the activity was beneficial. I am continuously looking for ways to determine if my teaching is effective and also how students perceive my teaching style.

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