Adapted from “Some Guidelines and Principles to Consider In Making Sense of Evaluation Feedback” by Kathleen Hoover-Dempsey, Vanderbilt University.

Student feedback is an opportunity to reflect on and assess your teaching. Making sense of student feedback can be challenging. By its very nature, it puts faculty in a vulnerable space.

When considering your students’ feedback

  • Pick a time when you will have enough time to digest at least some of the information, have privacy, and can give yourself some mental ‘space’ to consider and analyze the information.
  • Track quantitative results. Consider how the summary rating fits with your own ideas about teaching, your teaching goals and your school’s expectations.
  • Look for patterns in students’ comments—identify trends, note what you have done well and what needs improvement. Try to keep a balanced perspective.
  • Take your experience into account. If you are new to teaching, the school, or even the course, you may still be learning about various aspects of being a professor, such as course design, teaching skills, student interaction, and departmental expectations. Note those areas where you can seek further guidance.

When dealing with negative student feedback

  • Know that almost all faculty members receive negative feedback at some point in their careers, including those who are senior and highly successful.
  • Allow yourself to acknowledge that it can feel hurtful or make you angry, but also provides a pointer toward important areas for your continued development.

When deciding how to further your development as a teacher

  • Consider scheduling an appointment at the Center for Teaching and Learning for a consultation to help you interpret your evaluations. Research suggests that teachers who consult with someone about their evaluations are more likely to score higher on the next set of evaluations than others who do not discuss them with anyone. To schedule a consultation on student evaluations, call the Center for Teaching at (416) 675-6622 x 5040 or email anyone on the Professional Learning Team.
  • Talk to your Associate Dean.
  • Look for workshops, certificates, website resources that address your area of desired improvement.

When planning steps to improve the feedback you receive in evaluations, consider the following options

  • Consider scheduling an appointment at the Center for Teaching and Learning for a consultation to help you interpret your evaluations. Research suggests that teachers who consult with someone about their evaluations are more likely to score higher on the next set of evaluations than others who do not discuss them with anyone. To schedule a consultation on student evaluations, call the Center for Teaching at (416) 675-6622 x 5040 or email anyone on the Professional Learning Team.
  • Talk to your Associate Dean.
  • Look for workshops, certificates, website resources that address your area of desired improvement.

Alternate Format

This page is also available in PDF format.

Download PDF