The following is from the linkedin blog group: 

Higher Education Teaching and Learning

and was posted by Nelson King.


Our student evaluation contains the question “Course was appropriately organized and paced” and a similar question “The instructor was prepared for the class”. Both questions are on a 5-point scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree. 

I am concerned about the differences in semantics (how interpreted) of words such as “organized”, “paced”, and “prepared”. I am highly prepared with a richly populated Moodle course that follows the sequence of the course. The “due dates” of assignments appear automatically as Moodle upcoming events so they don’t have to scroll and find. I even create an agenda as an event repeating the readings and due dates. However, I still get a lot of complaints that “Sir, I can’t find anything” [unorganized]. I have flipped many of my courses so I can push critical thinking in predominantly group-based problem solving during class. The questions are structured with ambiguity to promote problem definition and framing but students see this as [unstructured, unorganized, and fast-paced]. They won’t finish on time if they dawdle or don’t come prepared. Note that I only grade the assignment if the majority of groups are able to complete the assignment as there is variance each semester. 

I suspect these evaluation questions have origins from the era of instructor-led courses. I suspect that most students interpret these words as:
• Organized – tell me/remind me what I need to do next so I don’t miss any assignments
• Paced – minimal pressure to complete the work
• Prepared – tell me what I need to know (memorize) to do well on exam – give me the Powerpoints – ask me questions that I understand

I interpret these words as:
• Organized – content of the course is laid out in a structured manner in a learning management system, assignments can be located, and due dates are clearly visible via event notices and agenda of the day
• Paced – enough pressure to reinforce being prepared and develop team collaboration skills to move through the required questions in the time allotted
• Prepared – I have carefully developed the questions to maximize critical thinking at the level of the class (per semester) in the group problem-solving


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