Reflect on and evaluate your teaching
Reflection and evaluation methods include systematic self-reflecting in a journal, asking students for feedback, analysing students’ grades, analysing eVALUate reports, peer review of your teaching and learning designs and formal professional development.
‘If we keep our targets focused and limited to the next teaching session (as opposed to grand targets that seek to make fundamental long-term changes) then we are more likely to implement them.’
Key strategies to reflect on the inclusivity of your teaching
Examine your own values, background, beliefs, and attitudes to determine
- What assumptions are you making about particular students based on their physical appearance or attributes, language, apparent cultural background or membership of a particular social group, and how do you know these are accurate?
- Do you consider how you may be perceived by your students, including your position of authority and/or privilege in society? Are you using this position ethically?
Examine your discipline and its cultural context
- What cultural views or perspectives that are prominent in your discipline area might risk excluding certain students?
- How can you demystify and explain the culture to include or induct students into this new discipline?
- How can you create opportunities for students to share their current and emerging perspectives of the discipline?
Reflect on your own learning experiences
- What constitutes a positive and effective learning experience for you?
- What positive and effective techniques and abilities do you bring to your teaching?
- Are there any skills or approaches you’d like to develop?
Reflect on your teaching
- Are you inadvertently excluding any students, e.g. by avoiding asking them questions because they may be difficult to understand?
- Imagine how students with particular characteristics you wouldn’t normally anticipate in your unit cohort would perform - this could pre-empt the need for later just-in-time adjustments.
- Analyse eVALUate data rigorously and make an action plan to address any areas that have been identified as weak. See Evaluation for more information.
Adapted from Strategies to practise reflectively (RMIT 2018)
Use this checklist (PDF 255KB) from the University of Michigan to reflect further on your inclusive teaching practice.
The ‘What? So what? Now what?’ model of reflection
UK academic Nicole Brown takes us through how the simple Rolfe et al. (2001) model What? So What? Now What? can be used to reflect and improve on our teaching practice.
What? prompts us to consider:
- What happened in class?
- What did I do?
- What did students do, say, or how did they respond?
- How did I react?
So What? asks us to think about:
- What are the consequences of these things?
- Do the answers to any of the What? questions matter? If so, how?
- Do you need to follow up with colleagues, literature, past experiences, prior courses to make sense of your reflections?
Now What? is where we use the insights gained from our reflections to make practical changes and improvements.
To help make this process systematic, see Brown’s Action Plan Template (Brown 2017).
Create a reflective journal file for each unit and use it to record brief reflections after each class/seminar.
A format such as: ‘What worked? What didn’t work? What will I do differently next time?’ can be helpful. Add student or teacher comments, ideas for improvement, etc. This not only helps you to reflect on what has happened and crystalise actions to take, it provides a valuable record of areas to improve.
Evaluation can be comprehensive or small-scale, quantitative or qualitative depending on the kind of data you need. It can provide evidence of strengths and weaknesses in the unit overall or in specific aspects, and help you prioritise areas to improve. Make sure you collect data from a diverse range of students - you may need to use a range of methods.
- eValuate: Every trimester, students evaluate each of their units using the eVALUate system, using an online questionnaire. Students provide numeric ratings and comments which can provide valuable indications of areas to improve. Further information about eValuate see Evaluation of Teaching and Units eVALUate and Deakin's Leading Courses guide Chapter 7 Evaluating learning and teaching (PDF 352KB).
- SIPU data: Analyse student performance in assessments. If possible, use Deakin’s Strategic Intelligence Planning Unit (SIPU) student success and grade data to compare results of different groups of students, such as low-socioeconomic status, Indigenous, remote-regional and students with disabilities, and examine your reflections and eVALUate data for reasons for variations.
- Informal methods such as simply chatting with students during and after teaching-learning sessions about how they are going with the unit or specific aspects can provide valuable data. Make sure you record their comments in a reflective journal.
- Gather explicit feedback early and later in the trimester. You can use a numeric poll as well as open questions, with prompts such as: ‘What is working well for you?’ ‘What is not working well for you?’ and ‘How could the teaching in this unit be improved?’ Use sticky notes in located classes/seminars, a CloudDeakin discussion forum/survey, or a poll during BB-Collaborate sessions. Keep responses in a unit evaluation data folder.
- Peer review: Ask a peer to sit in on a class and/or review your unit site. Ask for feedback overall and on specific aspects - in particular whether any students are being excluded or disadvantaged. Keep notes and store them in your unit evaluation folder.
Blair, E 2017, 'Everyday reflective practice', The Education Blog, 1 June 2017, The London School of Economics and Political Science, retrieved 2 December 2018.
Brown, N 2017, 'Reflective model according to Rolfe et al.', Nicole Brown, 26 December 2017, retrieved 3 December 2018.
Devlin, M, Kift, S, Nelson, K, Smith, E, & McKay, J, 2012, Effective teaching and support of students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds: Resources for Australian higher education, Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, Sydney.
RMIT 2018, Inclusive teaching resources: practise reflectively, retrieved 4 October 2018,
Rolfe, G, Freshwater, D & Jasper, M 2001, Critical reflection in nursing and the helping professions: a user’s guide, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.
University of Michigan 2018, Inclusive teaching strategies: reflecting on your practice (PDF 255KB), College of Literature, Science & the Arts, retrieved 4 October 2018.
University of Tasmania (UTS) 2018, Teaching and learning: facilitating learning experiences: evaluation, retrieved 13 August 2018.
University of Washington 2018, Inclusive teaching strategies, Center for Teaching and Learning, retrieved 4 October 2018.