On Teaching Fashion: Staying In Touch part 2.

As suggested in my last post, there is no real guidebook on staying in touch with former students. I discussed ways of measuring success through post-graduation and periodical check-ins. I want to continue this week on ways to capture data and when to capture it. Thanks to internet-based survey platforms it is easy to capture teaching and learning feedback that can be beneficial to all involved (former students and to ourselves as teachers) in tracking progress, success and needed improvements.

3. Post-classroom survey

After the flurry of graduation (mid-summer or early fall) I suggest sending out a Google survey/personal teaching evaluation.  Not the standard school generated evaluation, you can provide a note of introduction: I want to improve my teaching and I value your opinion.  I have gotten great feedback this way.  Survey monkey is an easy format that many of you have used in your research. I prefer the Google polls, you can these find inside Google docs public templates tab, you need to sign into google docs to access the public templates so I can not link it here.  What I like about the Google polls are the visual data displays. I find the graphs visually dynamic and a great addition to teaching and/or promotional dossiers.

 I developed a Google doc survey last summer when I was working on my promotion dossier.  I asked a few simple questions such as:

In your words, what are three key components of the Instructors teaching? How have they facilitated your growth and learning?

(e.g., In her evaluation, one student remarked:It is obvious she really cares about her students and the university and is always there to encourage and attempt to take the program to new levels. She has the ability to explain and transfer information from the classroom to the real world.”)

What are three key components that Instructor Cobb needs improvement on? What is the grey areas that persisted after your classroom experience.

(e.g., In her evaluation, one student remarked: “She could be a little more clear sometimes on exactly what she expects out of a project. Sometimes she is too abstract and it’s hard to take assignments seriously, or rather I don’t feel as though I am improving at the task at hand.”)

The feedback was very helpful for me. I learned what I was working and what I needed improvement on. The survey clarified for me one key learning from the students perspective that I needed to work on communicating creatively but in a less abstract way. Monica talks about this very topic in a previous On Teaching Fashion post.

4. One-year and Five-year out survey

I would expand out from a post-grad survey to a one-year out and a five-year out survey. This survey could include questions about the job market, their professional practices and what course material assisted or hindered their successes. Ok, I have not done this but it is an aspirational goal of mine.

As I stated last week, post-grad contact and valuable feedback can be secured using DIY methods such as survey monkey and Google docs. “Guided” and teacher specific data collected via DIY methods can compliment departmental or university based methods that tend to be more generic. The bottom line is that we want our students to succeed and we want to measure that success. We want to hear what works and what does not work.  We also want to be able to toot our horns in promotional or job application materials.

Happy teaching…and learning.


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