I taught Multimedia Journalism at the University of Delaware during the spring 2015 and 2016 semesters. Evaluation scores for me as an instructor and the course overall increased year to year. The average score for both was 3.8 in 2015 and increased to 4.7 in 2016.
Before teaching Multimedia Journalism at the University of Delaware, an undergraduate course, my most recent teaching experience was with graduate students. I started the spring 2015 semester similar to that of the grad classes, giving the students the responsibility of reviewing course documents for grading and individual assignments while offering an overview during class time. I soon realized that the undergrads required much more structure and specific guidance, so I changed course. I continued the more hands-on approach the following semester, which was better received by the students and positively reflected in their evaluations.
I also adjusted my tactic for office hours. In 2015, I was only able to be on campus the day of class. I was available before and after class, via email, phone or skype, but my office hours were “by appointment” on the syllabus. Though the students neither “strongly agreed” or “strongly disagreed” to my level of availability on their evaluations — their feedback averaged 3.25 — I made sure I could be available and listed specific office hours on the syllabus the following semester. The students rarely took advantage of the office hours either semester, but after spring 2016 their evaluations reflected that they “strongly agreed” that I was available — the average score was 4.71.
The evaluations for Multimedia Journalism also increased. Though the goals of the course remained the same, I was able to build on the experience of the previous semester to better the syllabus, the assignments and the class overall.
In 2015 one of the lowest evaluation scores for Multimedia Journalism was for course organization. I attribute this to two factors: growing pains of a newly created course and holding classes in three different spaces throughout the semester.
I created the syllabus from scratch, and having not taught the class before, I noted that the syllabus could be revised during the course of the semester. I tailored the class to the needs of the students, which resulted in the syllabus changing several times throughout the semester. Though I believe making adjustments as the semester progressed was best for student growth, the ever changing syllabus made it difficult for them to look too far ahead. This strategy helped to create a better structured syllabus for the following year.
The classroom situation could have been perceived as less organized as well. The class requires both lectures and hands-on lab work, but our scheduled room wasn’t conducive to teaching multimedia skills. At times we used a PC computer lab with limited software and other times we were able to reserve a Mac lab in the library. This didn’t change the following semester, but since I was aware of the issue I was able to discuss it with my class in advance.