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Making the Most of Student Participation using Surveys with Ms. Paula Patch

Public Domain image of women putting colorful post-its on a board. Students with laptops look at the board.

Ms. Paula Patch is a Senior Lecturer in English and Assistant Director for First-Year Initiatives at Elon University, where she previously coordinated the first-year writing program and has taught composition and grammar courses since 2006. She currently teaches First-year writing, first-year seminar, literature for non-majors.

In all her classrooms, Ms. Patch makes use of surveys. About this tool, she writes: “Surveys! Planning and implementing a course relies on content knowledge. Content, however, refers to both the topic(s) of the course--and the students who are taking it. Typically, faculty rely on general data, experience, and assumptions to plan to teach new populations of students. Yet, these are based on certainty, not curiosity. And certainty can lead not only to the wrong ways to present content, but unnecessary tension resulting from mismatched expectations between students and faculty. Being curious, rather than certain, means asking students direct, guided questions about who they are, what they know (and don't), what they need, and what their learning habits are can turn assumptions into evidence that faculty can use immediately to support the students in their classes. I use surveys, writing, and other forms of reflective practices to learn more about students in my classes, resulting in stronger communities of learners, activities and assignments that match everyone's expectations and needs, and my own pedagogical growth.”

“My primary area of expertise is first-year writing, but I seesaw between being a teacher of and advocate for first-year students and a teacher of writing. In both spaces, I use anti-racist, feminist, collaborative, and learner-centered practices. I've been teaching for 20 years.”

Some digital that can make surveys manageable in the classroom, consider using Poll Everywhere, Kahoot!, or even Google Forms. You can follow Ms. Patch on Twitter via @profpatch.   

Image from the public domain via Unsplash.


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