Teaching Tuesdays: Navigating CAPE Fear

Center for Teaching Development 2013-03-16

Teaching Tuesdays Themed informal discussions on teaching and learning

When: 3rd Tuesday of every month 2-3:30pm Where: Center for Teaching Development — Center Hall 307 Why: Because we’d all love teaching (and student learning) to be more effective, efficient and enjoyable. Who: Everyone in the UCSD community interested in teaching and learning.

December Topic: Navigating CAPE Fear

Tuesday, December 18 2:00 – 3:30 pm Center Hall, Rm 307

Your CAPE score is only one measure of your success this quarter. Whether you got a 98 or a 28, what do you do when the CAPE comments arrive in your inbox?

A) File the email without reading it because you don’t want to know. B) File the email until “you’re in the right mood” to read the comments. C) Read the comments, ignoring the positive ones but devastated by that one negative comment. D) Read the comments and get angry, “What? They said THAT about ME!?” E) Analyze the feedback, recognize your strengths, plan how to address your weaknesses.

Join your colleagues at this informal discussion about dealing with the students’ comment (even if you picked E.) We have some terrific resources for “navigating CAPE fear”. Holiday treats, too!

[Update Dec 19] Here are the resources we mentioned during the discussion:

  • Claire Potter’s essay on teaching evaluations. If you have any anxiety about receiving the students’ comments, this is a great read. You can follow her on twitter at @TenuredRadical. Here’s a hard copy (PDF), reproduced with permission, to put in your CAPE file folder or to give to a colleague,
  • Mark Applebaum’s 2007 report, CAPE and the Reward and Punishment Myth (PDF).This report gives a history of the CAPE at UCSD and looks for correlations with the two key questions, “Would you recommend this course?” and “Would you recommend this instructor?” He reaches this conclusion:

Based upon the results of over 2,000 CAPEd courses it would appear that students are basing their evaluations of the quality of the course and the instructor predominately on their perception of how much they learned in the course. While there are positive correlations between with the quality indicators and grades, this relationship seems, in the main, to be carried by the students’ perception of their learning outcomes. (p. 5)

  • The more students that complete the CAPE, the more valid the assessment. Well, whether or not you believe CAPE scores and comments are a good measure of an instructor’s ability, it’s worse when only a fraction of the students in a class submit a CAPE evaluation. Here’s a list of Tips for Increasing Response Rate submitted by UCSD instructors.
  • If you have any questions about CAPEs, check this FAQ for Faculty.
  • Finally, special thanks to my colleague Chris Goedde @chrisgoedde for answering my plea to my Twitter community for a witty title by suggesting the awesome title, “Navigating CAPE Fear.”