CELT Teaching Spotlight: Paul Hengesteg

Paul Hengesteg

Paul Hengesteg shares the following:

Originally from Northwood, Iowa. (any fellow north Iowans or Worth Countians out there?). I attended Simpson College (‘ 99) as a Theatre Arts and German double-major

ISU has always had a presence in my life. Not only is my sister an alumna of ISU, but I was very active in 4-H and spent a good amount of time in the county Extension Office.

Spent 15 years working in regional theatre management, event planning, and higher education. I have lived in Indianapolis, IN, Washington, DC, and Newark, DE.

Joined CELT: May 4, 2020, amid the raging pandemic and remote working. I have loved working with such a wonderful team in CELT and meeting and working with such a wide array of educators across campus. It’s very thrilling.

Joined ISU: I moved back to Iowa in late summer 2014 to begin the M.Ed. in Student Affairs program, finishing in 2016. After some thought, I decided to continue with doctoral studies in Higher Education Administration. I am currently a candidate and working through dissertation anxiety!

About end of the semester assessment:

As we approach the end of the semester, it is natural, if not expected, to turn our thoughts to assessment. Were course learning objectives met? What did my students learn? Was my teaching effective? Are they prepared to take the next course in their degree sequence? These questions (and more) are likely on your mind, and I want to make very clear that the adjusted teaching required by Covid-19 provides even more questions (and frustrations, exhaustion… I’m sure that elaborating is unnecessary here…). So, what are you and your fellow faculty doing about end-of-the-semester assessments for your classes?

First, breathe. 

Assessment does not need to be complicated. Although assessment is vital to impactful teaching and learning, it does not need to add undue stress during an already stressful time. Here are a few tips that I can offer:

  1. KISS your assessment: Keep It Simple, Smartie! There’s no need to make it complicated. My mentor once said, “Good assessment needs to be good enough.” No assessment will be perfect, but if it allows you to have a reasonably sure answer to your question, go with it. You can always revise for next time. (Also, thanks, Ann!)
  2. If there’s something you want to know from your students, ask. We spend a lot of time wondering about the student experience, reading scholarships about student needs but often forget that we can just as easily go to the source. Not only that, but your students will appreciate that you asked their thoughts. 
  3. Try a plus-delta. Sure, the plus-delta is intended for mid-term check-in, but if you think it could provide valuable insight at the end of the term, give it a shot. This step is beneficial if you know you’ll be teaching this class again. You’ll have an idea of what tweaks to implement next time. Or, if you’re feeling creative and want to try something new, give it a go – and if it worked, share the idea widely!
  4. Encourage your students to complete the university-administered evaluations. But, I also have two thoughts. First, intentionally frame the evaluations’ purpose as an opportunity to share constructive feedback about their learning and your teaching. It doesn’t need to be glowing reviews, but it is also not the space to air all (often biased) grievances. Second, I encourage you to chat about your results with a trusted colleague. Whether positive or negative, talking it through can help you process the results. For more approaches, see the Strategies for better course evaluations page.
  5. Allocate class time to assessment data-gathering. We all know how easy it is to skip over an email, blow off something optional, or forget to do something. The same is true for students. This approach also sends the message that you care deeply about this process.

For other ideas and resources about assessment, consult the wealth of information available on the CELT website. If you’re still struggling or want to talk through some things, be in touch with us in the Center. We are your partners!