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NYT Spotlights BU Prof’s Vibrant Student Feedback Loop

Tracking student engagement a constant exercise for ENG’s Muhammad Zaman

| From The New York Times

ENG Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor Muhammad H. Zaman. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Muhammad Zaman, a School of Engineering biomedical engineering professor, was the focus of a recent New York Times article on how campuses solicit meaningful feedback from students. RateMyProfessors.com and mid- and end-of-term evaluations aren’t nearly enough for Zaman, who frequently queries his students, immediately analyzes the feedback, and, along with his students’ help, adjusts his next class based on their responses.

The New York Times

Many professors with large lecture classes swear by clickers that help them keep tabs on how well their students are following the material. Some online courses include dashboards that let professors see which students are stuck, and where. And thousands of professors use some variation of K. Patricia Cross’s “One-Minute Paper” approach, in which, at the end of each class, students write down the most important thing they learned that day — and the biggest question left unanswered.

But even in an era when teacher evaluations and learning assessments are a hot topic in education, Dr. Zaman stands out in his constant re-engineering of his teaching: He graphs the results the day he collects them (an upward trend is visible), sends out an e-mail telling the class about any fine-tuning he plans in response to their comments, and starts the following class by discussing the feedback.

“A lot of college teaching is not very good, and everybody knows it,” he said. “Having student evaluations at the end of the course doesn’t do anything to help it get better, and the person who does the evaluation can never benefit. To me it just seems intuitive to ask for ratings all along.” Read more…

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