I decided that I needed to get a feel for how my students think the class is going so I had them fill out a brief questionnaire and asked them to be as honest as possible. Here are the questions and general responses.
1. Please comment of the pace, presentation and amount of material covered in lectures.
For the most part the students thought things were good here. A few think I go a bit too fast, and that is probably true, but I need to find ways to slow down where I don't just stand there while they finish writing shit down from the slides (which do not contain a ton of text). The slides were generally well liked and the fact that I post them online has been appreciated.
2. Have you found that the lab has helped you to understand classroom concepts?
The lab was universally seen as a good extension of the class material and no one had anything bad to say about it. It helps that I have a kick ass TA.
3. What is one concept from the lecture you still find difficult to understand?
Students mostly complained about some of the nitty gritty details, but sorry folks, all of the fun stuff I tell you is to give you a break from the nitty gritty shit you have to learn. One student complained that some things were hard to understand in class until they went back and studied. What are your other profs doing where you find this unusual?
4. What about the lectures do you find most helpful or useful?
Again, they like the slides and diagrams and that they can access them after class.
5. What would you do to improve the class?
If there was anything here it had to do with being more explicit about WHAT THEY NEED TO KNOW FOR THE EXAM. I love this complaint because I tell them in class the format of the test and what I expect them to know. Somehow, if I don't hand them the questions ahead of time I am trying to trick them.
Overall, I don't see anything that makes me concerned, which is good. The main message is to slow down a bit and hover over some of the concepts they find challenging, which I don't think will be a problem. Also some wanted more interaction, which made me laugh because I often toss out questions into the void and it appears that they consider them rhetorical.
My favorite comment was that one student appreciated me trying to make them laugh at the early hour of 9:30. Dude, I've been up for four fucking hours already, which I don't find funny. But, alas, I do remember that schedule.
Anyway, overall I am pleased with the response.