Guide for Class Interviewers
Before the interview
- In interviewer contacts the instructor and the scribe to set up a time to meet before the MCI to discuss the class.
- Request that the instructor send you and the scribe his/her syllabus, class schedule and other class documents that might be helpful
- Send the instructor the list of questions you intend to go over in the pre-MCI interview so they have a chance to think about this. The questions are:
- What level is the course and what kind of students are in the class (e.g. majors, juniors and seniors, politically active students, etc)?
- What kind of teaching methods do you use (e.g. discussion, lecture, group projects, student presentations, etc)?
- What kind of short-term and longer-term assignments do you give (e.g. daily reading assignments, papers, journals, forum entries, blogs, podcasts, etc)?
- How do you assess student learning in your class (e.g. papers, student individual and group work, exams, etc.)?
- How do you think the class is going? What are your major concerns at this point?
- The interviewer and scribe meet with the instructor and find out what you can about the class and how it is taught. You may wish to use the attached form to make sure you collect all the information you need (e.g. number of students in the class, location and time of the class, etc.) Use this time to discuss specific concerns the instructor may have about how the class is going. This information may be helpful during the interview.
- Set up a date for the class interview and for the follow-up meeting. Schedule the follow-up meeting as soon after the interview as is possible.
What to bring to class
- A laptop computer that can be projected (check with the instructor to make sure there is a projection system in the room.)
- Worksheets (attached.) You will need one “individual” worksheet for each student AND one “group” worksheet for each small group of three students.
What to tell the class in the introduction
- Remind the students that this instructor is doing this because they really care about how the class is going and they want honest student feedback.
- Thank the students for their candor and willingness to provide honest feedback
- Go over the goals of the MCI
- To provide feedback on how the class is going at midterm when changes can be made
- To provide students an opportunity to talk with one another about how the class is going
- To develop and convey to the instructor a consensus on the issues of importance to the majority of students in the class
- To get a clear understanding of issues and ideas for improvement
- Go over the process of the MCI. Tell students how the hour will be spent.
- Tell them how the outcome will be conveyed to the instructor. Remember to tell them that their individual response sheets will not be seen by the instructor.
Advice on how to gather information from small groups and develop a consensus or sense of how many students agree with the perspective.
- Don’t get struck on the early questions. Move along and try to spend your time about evenly for all four questions.
- One successful approach is to go from small group to small group, having each group state their first response, then do a second round with them stating their second response, etc, until all views are stated. They don’t state a response if it has already been mentioned by an earlier group. Once all the group responses for one question are listed, ask the class how many people agree with each response. Give three, two, or one star to views that are held by the majority, several, or a few students, respectively.
- Follow up major issues and concerns with discussion. Make sure you understand the concern. When addressing the last two questions, (what can students and the instructor do to improve the class), try to get students to think about realistic solutions, given the class constraints.
After the interview
- Organize the notes to make them coherent, but leave as much of the students’ original language as possible. If possible, summarize the few (3-4) major points you think emerged from the discussion.
- Provide the notes sheet to the instructor before you meet in the post-MCI interview to give the instructor time to think about the comments. Make sure the instructor understands the few, central issues that were the consensus of the class, and does not develop too much concern over the opinions held by a minority of students.
- Be honest about problems. You can soften the blow by making sure especially young faculty know that teaching is complex and that students in every class will have complaints and suggestions for improvement. However, do not understate real problems, if they exist. Honest feedback is the cornerstone of improvement.
- Discuss with the instructor that approach he/she will take in talking with his/her class during the following period about the MCI. Discuss the potential to develop unrealistic expectations of the impact of the MCI. Students and faculty may both create unrealistic expectations for change, and this should be addressed in the post-MCI interview.