Looking to expand his portfolio while completing a PhD, Reza Ramezan, under the suggestion of his supervisors Paul Marriott and Shoja Chenouri, accepted a lecturer position in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science.
Fully expecting to walk into the classroom and further develop a budding passion for teaching, what Ramezan didn’t expect was to be at the forefront of a conversation surrounding the way lecturers adjust their teaching style.
“After completing the Centre for Teaching Excellence’s (CTE) Certificate in University Teaching (CUT) program, I realized how important feedback is in improving your teaching but, I wasn’t receiving feedback from my students until half way through the next term. By that time, it’s too late to adjust my teaching methods. So, I decided to start doing a midterm evaluation,” said Ramezan.
It’s these midterm evaluations that have helped both Ramezan and his students excel. “I decided that after one month, students would be able to judge what they like and dislike. I put a quick survey together asking three questions – what to stop, what to keep, and what to start. The respondents was between 20% and 30% of the class, and the results were astonishingly helpful,” said Ramezan. “There’s a timing problem with the way evaluations are currently done and it can be frustrating.”
The benefit of administering a midterm review is made clear in the feedback Ramezan receives at the end of term.
"In 2010 I was teaching a third year course and at midterm, I received feedback that my notes were jumping from one topic to another. It was like an 'a-ha!' moment. Of course my notes were too complicated, I was approaching this third year course as if it were a graduate level course. While it was my hundredth time seeing the material, for an undergraduate student, it might have only been the first of the second time they’ve had exposure to the concepts. By the end of term, my students had told me that my notes had improved immensely,” says Ramezan.
Ramezan doesn’t think he’s doing much, but, in actuality, his forward thinking efforts are having a big impact. Catering to the learning styles of his classes can go a long way in ensuring that students continue to be successful in their studies.
Ramezan is just one of a number of professors and lecturers in the Faculty of Mathematics doing amazing work. Read more about teaching excellence on our Teaching page.