Really, Though: How’s the Semester Going?

The typical greeting on campus these days involves the question “How’s the semester going?” There are common answers, too, maybe involving how fast time is going by, or how much the grading is piling up—but, beyond those habitual observations, it can be hard to be sure just exactly how class is going. Most students at Georgetown are game, can-do, and polite—so how can you know what they’re thinking about their learning experience?

Well, you could wait until the end-of-semester evaluations—but why not find out sooner? Maybe there are mid-semester course adjustments that could improve things along the way. But first you have to discover what, if anything, needs adjusting.

CNDLS can help. One of the services we offer is Mid-Semester Group Feedback Sessions (MSGFs). When a faculty calls on us to do an MSGF, the first step is that one of our staff—an experienced teacher—meets with the faculty member to discuss any questions they have about the students’ experience of the course; second, the CNDLS staff member goes into class to talk to the students about their experience; third, there’s another one-on-one conversation with the faculty member to debrief. The whole thing is informal, and can’t end up in your file; it’s purely intended to help you grow as a teacher. People who’ve used this service get a lot out of it—insights into their students’ learning processes, feedback on particular pedagogical strategies and assignments, ideas for new things to try to get more people more involved. Find out more about MSGFs on the Teaching Commons.

There are also things you can do on your own—invite a friendly departmental colleague in to observe your class informally, for example, or collect some brief anonymous feedback yourself. Our Teaching Commons also has a Gathering Teaching Feedback page that can help you with ideas.

Here’s to a great semester—and, as always, reach out to us if there’s anything we can do to help!

This spring, we’re using the CNDLS blog to highlight the Teaching Commons, a compilation of resources and case studies designed to help faculty revitalize their courses and gain insights into practical issues in pedagogy at Georgetown. As a living resource, the site evolves to encompass new scholarship in teaching and learning, as well as technological innovations that are changing and enhancing the current teaching landscape. To help you explore all that the Commons has to offer, we’re showcasing tools and other information on a semi-weekly basis, guiding you through the semester in real time. Missed the other posts? Check out our takes on crafting a syllabus, starting the semester, leading discussions, evaluating learningdesigning assignments, and active learning, then hear from fellow faculty in our interview highlights.