Students offer feedback for teachers early

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    By Andrew Damstedt

    There is another option for professors to receive more feedback from students than just the end of the semester evaluations.

    Students Consulting On Teaching is a program sponsored by the Faculty Center that allows faculty members to receive feedback from students during the semester.

    “It has benefited BYU by bringing faculty members and students working together to improve teaching and learning in BYU classes,” said Lynn Sorenson, assistant director of BYU Faculty Center.

    SCOT was started 13 years ago with six students and has grown and expanded ever since, Sorenson said.

    In the faculty handbook, it gives the guidelines of the qualifications of a student consultant. They are carefully selected and trained by the Faculty Center and provide valuable confidential feedback to faculty members to supplement student evaluations.

    Scott Ferrin, associate professor in educational leadership, said he has used SCOT during most of the time he has been teaching at BYU and plans to continue using it his entire career.

    “It will help me keep fresh and challenge me to new ideas,” he said.

    Student consultants can provide feedback in a variety of ways, said Sarah Williams, SCOT student coordinator. They can interview students at the beginning and middle of the class and provide professors with feedback. Other ways are videotaping the class, attending the class as an unbiased observer and recording exactly what happens in class.

    “Working with SCOT has helped me better understand and appreciate my professors and the teaching and learning process,” Williams said.

    Professors from every college on campus have used SCOT to help better their teaching.

    “It has increased my awareness,” said Lora Brown, associate professor in nutrition, dietetics and food science.

    She used SCOT a few semesters ago and it gave her feedback as to whether she favored the right or left side of the classroom and if males or females were responding more to her questions.

    “It is one of the best ways to keep growing in teaching,” Ferrin said. “It”s a giant challenge to be a real great teacher.”

    The student voice is the advantage of SCOT, because students have seen a variety of teachers and teaching styles and what works best for them, Williams said.

    “I have come to realize the potential we as students have in creating the optimal learning environment for ourselves,” Kelsey Draper, a senior majoring in humanities, said in a press release.

    Other college campuses have started their own program based on the SCOT program at BYU and it has received attention in higher education newsletters and journals, Sorenson said.

    Ferrin teaches principals and graduate students and is open about the process with his students so they can take SCOT as a model to their public schools.

    Student consultants are paid, although some choose to volunteer.

    Students interested in serving as a student consultant can attend an informational meeting Thursday, Sept. 9, at 5 p.m. in Room 4450 in the Wilkinson Student Center.

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