Here are the three questions I ask students for mid-semester feedback. Below is what they wrote.
What do we do in this class that seems helpful for you in learning? Why is that helpful for you?
“The group problems tied with sample problems seem to help a lot. Ideas that I might not have thought of before are shared and I learn a lot.”
“The quizzes because we do them over in order to better our skills.”
“Doing a lot of work with the class.”
“You explain things more than one way that helps to think about things in a different way, and also gives us options in how we’d like to solve it.”
“The fact that we get to take quizzes over. It shows that we have mastered that task and we can move on.
“The sample problems we do in class are very helpful. They allow me to see more types of problems that may come up. I tend to learn by doing examples.”
“Time spent doing problems. Additionally, the manner in which it’s presented, not just focusing on plugging numbers into equations but rather comprehension”
“The instructor goes into depth with each problem.”
“The analogy for average speed and average velocity as “ghost racers”. It helped make an abstract physics definition easier to visualize and understand.”
“The example problems that we do on the board. They are helpful because explain 2 ways to do a problem.”
“I believe the group problems help me most. It really helps when things are broken down”
“Working through the sample problems on white boards, and hearing how other students go about solving a problem helps to learn multiple methods and also be able to see what areas I have problems with”
“Practice problems that we do on boards. I do better learning by doing than talking.”
“Working through some of the problems by going over several scenarios, right or wrong, helps me understand the right way more and helps me train my thinking.”
“The quiz and reassessing. The quiz helps me see the mistakes I make and reassessing helps me correct them.”
“I like going over sample problems as a class and then individualized problems in our groups. This is because you break down the complexity into terms we non-physics majors can understanding. The groups problems allow us and me to see if we really comprehend all the info.”
“You show us how to think, how to use concepts logically, instead of just plugging into equations. I find this very helpful because I learn why these laws of physics work and understand them much more in real life.”
“I like how you do all the problems on board showing all the steps and explaining all the parts. Then we will do a similar problem in our groups.”
“When you do a problem at the board in a few different ways. It allows me to choose the way that makes sense to me. This is helpful because I don’t always solve problems the same way.”
“Just doing things in class is helpful. For example, you brought out the hovering soccer ball. It became much easier for me to see how forces work.”
“I enjoy quizzes before and after class. They show me where I might not understand things that seem clear from the reading, and sometimes it turns out I’ve completely missed it.”
What do we do in class that seems not helpful for your learning? Why is this not helpful for you?
They’re is probably no way to do this, but I feel the lab manual is not very helpful.
When we make excel graphs. It is frustrating dealing with the computer.
The computer files in class don’t help me too much.
There is a lot of down time for certain groups, and I’m not sure there is much you can do about it. If you can find productive things to do during down times, I would be completely accepting of extra work.
The computer questions aren’t helpful because they’re worded in a way that I can’ understand what they are asking. It also doesn’t explain why you go the answer right or wrong, just whether you are right or wrong.
I don’t like doing the computer problem at beginning of class.
I don’t think the computer exercises we do at beginning of class are very helpful. Cause we don’t understand something, but we get the right answer anyway, and then we fool ourselves into thinking we understand
The computer questions seem like they’re taken from some generic physics course that’s not about what we are learning.
The computer stuff isn’t helpful because if we do get a question wrong, it doesn’t really explain it.
Some of the experiments, although interesting, don’t give me a better understanding of why.
The lab activities are related, but they don’t help when it comes to learning. Also, the computer exercises are mostly confusing.
I really do not think the labs help me much.
The computer assignments are not a good learning device.
The skill packets on the computer are not helpful. For me, the wording of the questions and the graphs that they present always confuse me.
The computer programs doesn’t help. It asks more questions than it answers.
The computer problems seem to offer the least benefit. They end up merely being a race to get it done rather than a task that aids in comprehension or understanding.
The exercises on the computer don’t help me much just because they are different that they way questions are asked in class.
When you skip steps in the math, it gets confusing sometimes.
I would like it if you used more formulas
The computer exercises are more of a hassle than a tool for learning. It frustrates me when our answers are wrong and no explanation goes along with it.
Everything we do is helpful. But some of the labs don’t really impact my learning. Just recording information in a notebook can’t effect learning.
I don’t feel like the computer activities are helpful at all. I would rather do more problems in group with that time.
I think you’re pretty helpful
Practice problems take a lot of time. Posing shorter problems may be better.
I don’t like group problems; different opinions just confuse me.
When we go back to the computer. I would rather do things that work better for us.
I don’t see to learn from the computer assignments, it just seems like a tedious task and the questions aren’t always worded efficiently.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about? Something you wish we did that we don’t? Something that’s been on your mind?
I might add more sample problems.
I would like to see more simple problems worked out step by step.
I learn better when you do sample problems. There should be more of that.
Do shorter practice problems, but more of them.
Sometimes I feel like we breeze through things as if we try to do soo much in 2 hrs and 20 min that I walk away half the time not understanding we went over.
Everything is fine
I appreciate your partience. Also, thanks for taking our ideas into consideration.
I wish we did more problems in class.
Thank you for changing the time of quizzes to 2am instead of midnight. The readings are hard and I work late.
Do I need to know this stuff for the MCAT?
Get out early on Fridays?
Just to do more example problems as a class, where people offer opinions on how to solve. This helps me understand physics better.
You’ve really helped me out a lot. So far ! yay!
You explain things really well & make material so much simpler. Thanks for being patient.
Our lab class seems to have a lot of people who are really trying.
I like that you accept feedback
Thanks for changing the quiz time to end at 2am
I wish we would more problems on the board.
I would benefit from a site with more examples problems with solutions.
I would like to tell you that I think I did pretty well on the exam and after turning in today’s standards I remembered how to do the answer I turned in blank.
It would be nice to do a homework problem that may have given us problem
Classic. They always want more examples.
Truth. Very classic. Do you think it’s worth pointing them to something like KA? Or videos of someone else problem-solving (Warren has videos on youtube)? … Maybe at some point I’ll make my own videos that students can access, but I have two many other things to worry about right now.
What are the computer exercises they’re referring to – WebAssign? Clicker Questions?
The classroom has computers in the back, which is where they are supposed to do two things. First, they have “exercises” they are supposed to do. It’s usually 5-10 simpler questions about the content they are supposed to have read, done at the beginning of class (after quiz). Then, after I model a sample problem, they are supposed to go back and the computer randomly gives them a similar problem. On the exercises, its multiple-choice, so students get immediate feedback about whether they are right or wrong. For the problems, they are supposed to do them on whiteboard.
The problems are written in-house. I’ve written before how I don’t like either the exercises or the problems from the computer. They are often poorly worded and confusing, but the real problem is that they are not really rooted in an understanding of student thinking and student learning. They are not chosen to really promote learning through problem-solving, or chosen to draw out an important distinction of skill for discussion. The exercises aren’t ordered or scaffolded in a way that makes sense as a progression. The questions are written such that they have lots of false positives (i.e. students will get the right answer for the wrong reason).
This semester I make up my own sample problems (the ones I model, and we actually discuss as a class), and I make up the problems they are supposed to do on their whiteboards. I do base them off the exercises and problems, but I put a lot of thought into the write-up of the questions, the order of the questions, the numbers in the questions, which groups will get which questions, and how the collection of questions together will result in a classroom conversation about some important skill or concept.
I haven’t changed the computer exercises, because I decided I couldn’t change everything all at once. Changing my quiz system and designing all new sample and group problems is enough. So, while they are doing the computer exercises, I give feedback on their standards-based quizzes. It gives me time to do that, and them something to do.
My inclination now is to give student groups option: do the computer files, do “review” problems that cover things from the previous days/weeks, or work on their independent projects. I’ll think about it over the weekend, and our class will have a conversation about the whole feedback next week.