Using Student Evaluations for Self Reflection

text: Reflective Practice Using Student Evaluations

Reflective practice is an integral part of teacher education programs, and it is becoming a more routine in-service professional development strategy.1 Although it takes many forms, reflective practice can be defined simply as a process of thinking about one's teaching. Most teachers at least informally self-reflect after each lesson; however, alternate perspectives are crucial for one's reflective practice because colleagues, administrators, and students afford a viewpoint that may be overlooked by the teacher.2

The outset of a new year is a great time to examine one's reflective practice. For many of us, a semester has recently concluded, and a new semester is about to begin, and I want to start the new year by sharing one of my favorite instruments for use in self-reflection: student evaluations.

Some institutions make use of standardized student evaluations, which may not concentrate on an instructor's targeted areas of growth and development. For this reason, I like to produce my own student survey for use at the end of a semester and focus on specific facets of my course. I use a Google Form because it makes the survey straightforward for students, and the results are neatly represented.

Since I employ a flipped classroom, I was particularly interested in how my students are using available resources to gather knowledge, and if any barriers or limitations exist. Moreover, I wanted to learn how much time my students were working outside of class since flipped classes can be more time consuming than traditional classes.3

Here are the results from the most recent student evaluation, along with my reflection.

Figure 1: Google Form results for usage of video tutorials

Most of my students reported that they always watched the video tutorials or watched them most of the time to prepare for class (figure 1). This result positively correlates to the high success rate on entrance cards (short quizzes that assessed students' level of comprehension of the material at the start of class). Some teachers report a low completion rate of out-of-class assignments, and I am satisfied that most of my students are completing the out-of-class assignments and performing well on entrance cards. So, at this time, it does not seem necessary to include any additional incentives for completing out-of-class assignments.

Figure 2: Google Form results for usage of textbook

My students did not seem to rely much on their textbooks for learning (figure 2). Preferably, I would like my students to read their textbook before watching a video tutorial because the textbook has more detail than the tutorial. I try to keep video tutorials 4 - 6 minutes long, and as a consequence, they are not comprehensive. I will likely increase the time spent teaching students how to read and take notes from the textbook, and how to supplement this knowledge with the video tutorials.

Figure 3: Google Form results for value of video tutorials

I am satisfied with this result because most students reported that they readily learned from video tutorials (figure 3). I spend notable time at the start of a semester teaching students how to learn and take notes while watching a video tutorial. I have contemplated taking less instructional time for this purpose; however, I will likely resume this effort because it appears that most students were adequately prepared to learn from out-of-class videos.

Figure 4: Google Form results for student study time outside of class

I am additionally pleased by these results. Nearly half of my students could accomplish what they need to in less than an hour (figure 4). Some students complain that a flipped classroom takes more time than a traditional class however, based on these results, it seems that most students are spending less than an hour or between 1-2 hours on average, which seems fitting.

Figure 5: Google Form results for student reflection on MOST helpful aspects of course


I operate a fairly systematic course design, and each lesson component is purposely designed to target different aspects of the learning process. Nevertheless, I wanted to shed light on my students' perspective - which course components were most beneficial for learning in their eyes (figure 5 and 6). Interestingly, the video tutorials and the workshop (in-class direct instruction) were closely ranked. Direct instruction was slightly more favored, so it seems that students still prefer some direct instruction during class. On the other hand, group thinking (in-class group activities) was least often selected. I am not necessarily surprised by this result because students are not generally adept at planning and functioning within a small group setting without training.4 Because of this, I plan on investigating and hopefully implementing more effective grouping strategies this semester.

Figure 6: Google Form results for student reflection on LEAST helpful aspects of course

One of my goals for the new year is to investigate more beneficial reflective practices. So please leave a comment, I would love to hear how you reflect on your teaching and about tools that help in that process.


  1. Mathew, P., Mathew, P., & Peechattu, P. J. (2017). Reflective practices: A means to teacher development. Asia Pacific Journal of Contemporary Education and Communication Technology (APJCECT), 3(1), 126-131.
  2. Kansanen, P. (1995). Discussion on Some Educational Issues VI. Research Report 145. Department of Teacher Education, PO Box 38 (Ratakatu 6 A), 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
  3. Akçayır, G., & Akçayır, M. (2018). The flipped classroom: A review of its advantages and challenges. Computers & Education, 126, 334-345.
  4. Thanh Pham, T. H. (2013). Using group projects as a strategy to increase cooperation among low-and high-achieving students. Higher Education Research & Development, 32(6), 993-1006.