The Handbook for Economics Teaching Assistants

At various points in the year, you will want to assess how well you and your students are doing. Here are some suggestions to help you evaluate your classroom teaching:

Checking Student Progress

  • As noted in 'questioning skills' in the section on 'the skills of the class teacher', ask questions designed to monitor student understanding. This is an informal way to assess student progress.
  • Watch for student reactions to your discussion section. Take notice of body language and eye contact.
  • Consider using short quizzes designed to monitor students' understanding of the previous week's material. (The Economics Network has links to many tests and past papers, that you might want to use or adapt.)
  • Try out an "instant questionnaire". This is a simple technique of asking three or four "indicative" questions or statements about a particular session, and getting an instant response to them from the students (usually anonymously, on scraps of paper, done at the end of a session). Statements might take the form of "I now feel confident to tackle problems about x", "Today's class was too fast for me", "I really feel I need more help on understanding theory y", etc.

Feedback on your Class Teaching Approach

  • Ask students how things are going, over coffee, or when they come to see you in office hours.
  • A few weeks into term, ask students to jot down answers to the following: what would you like me to stop doing; continue doing; start doing? (Think of variations on this theme, for example asking them to comment similarly on what they'd like from their fellow students in the class.)
  • Using peer observation of teaching sessions can also greatly benefit the reflective class teacher. It can be very useful to agree to observe and be observed by another class teacher reciprocally to help develop teaching skills.
  • Invite the teacher responsible for the course to observe your teaching and arrange a feedback session afterwards.
  • You may wish to videotape your classes to review your own approach (you would need to consult with your students about this and probably explain that it is for your benefit and therefore ultimately for their benefit!).

Top Tip

"I asked if I could sit in on one of the experienced class teacher's classes, before I met my own group, just to see how he did it. I really liked his approach but I knew I wouldn't have the confidence to mimic him - still it gave me an idea of how to break up the time and how to avoid doing all the talking."