Student Surveys: Kids Say the Darnedest Things

Having had no real formal teacher training, I have either stolen or made up everything that I have done. One of the things I find hardest to do is to evaluate how these stolen or made up ideas come across and how effective they are. I give my students surveys every now and then, which is always a great combination of hilarious notes to me, strange undecipherable comments, helpful nuggets of advice, and then the inspiring kind of stuff that keeps me going with the long hours of teaching. I thought I’d share the results from my most recent survey about halfway through this past term:


  • I absolutely love class can you please come to college with us [I would love to. Please]
  • I think I should be a C not a C- [Don’t set your goals so high!!!]
  • friendly, more like an understanding peer than a tyrannical teacher [then I’m not doing my job right]
  • assigned seating cause I talk way too much with my friends [you’re right, sounds like a problem I need to deal with, not you]
  • more bow days not only Thursday [Done.]
  • you go really FAST! By the time I get to class you would be done with the question [Seems like there’s a simple solution to this problem that involves coming to class on time]
  • I like the class the way it is PS it’s one of my favorite classes [Is there a reason that couldn’t go in the script and had to be posted?]
  • the class is fun and not sleepy like others [I just loved the adjective use here].


  • focus more on explaining the material [okay, I’ll focus less on playing air guitar then… what do you think I’m doing all class?]
  • try to be more clear and never show your hesitance [I’ll try to figure out what you are talking about and then never do that]
  • you aren’t angry [damning by faint praise…. “I love that you don’t go around stabbing people in the throat!!!’]
  • make it more obvious what the answers to personal preference question “e.g. is avatar a good movie?” [sometimes as a joke I put little questions into tests like “Avatar was a _____ movie” to which they put their opinion and then I mark it wrong or right – the answer to the last question was good, not great. I guess someone didn’t get the memo that it’s still a joke and doesn’t count towards their grade even if I mark it right or wrong.]
  • no not really, to be honest, everything is fine, but the only thing that I would like to see is that we have a free day to eat, but no worries [As long as there are no worries, I don’t think I will heed your advice.]
  • I think there is more to a grade then just numbers. I am aware that numbers do precisely and accurately calculate a grade, but a performance is that of what the viewer makes of it, what it makes of itself, and the understanding that lies within. It is the reality of what cannot be seen on paper, but seen in the eyes of those who seek to truly see; those who watch the performance to simply appreciate. A mutuality and support that a number is not capable of expressing, but can exactly state and convey. The contradiction in which the power of a number holds; the derivative that lacks originality. 😉 haha [Nope, not going to work.]


  • always energetic and in a good mood, enthusiasm – genuine, fun, funny, positive, always happy, energetic self that keeps the class alive…. [This was the first thing that SO MANY students mentioned. I didn’t realize it was so important! This has absolutely nothing to do with the material of the class or how I prepare it, which is inevitably what my focus is always on.]
  • he talks kind of fast [I do!! Now I notice that.]
  • you don’t write on the board [I don’t! I hate it. But now I am more conscious of when I want something to stick so I say it and then write it on the board too.]
  • I feel your labs require a level of ultra-specificity sometimes which is simply busy work [True. I always hated that as a student, this was a reminder that there should be a purpose to everything we do and not just activities or work to fill up time.]


  • you are doing a wonderful job don’t worry [I find these very funny – as if giving a survey means I’m worried, or I’m about to get fired]
  • honestly there isn’t a lot to improve, your overall teaching style is amazing. Don’t underestimate yourself because you’re the youngest faculty member 🙂 [handing out survey = underestimating myself]
  • I really feel that you are doing a great job 🙂 honestly [These are very sweet and nice though, so I do appreciate it.]

AND THE MOST INSPIRING: [I underlined my favorite parts of each one]

  • I love that class is both fun and productive. It makes me look forward to class; which is a first and I am delighted and relieved to feel that way.
  • I like the fact that you enjoy what you teach, it makes your class lively and makes me enjoy physics
  • class is filled with positive energy because he keeps us interacted in the lessons
  • focuses on understanding not memorizing so we actually learn and can remember the material
  • even though we always ask him a zillion questions, he’s always willing to answer
  • makes me think and participate a lot
  • engaged and funny, gains our attention in ways other than calling for it, mainly cause we are interested
  • Awesomely creative and wickedly interesting and fun.
  • Somewhat relaxed and comfortable teaching style that creates a specific vibe or creates a safe environment.

I’m glad I did these before our Physics term 1 final tomorrow. I wrote the test that the whole junior class is taking and somehow they all found this out. My popularity might go down a notch after tomorrow morning…

Posted on November 30, 2010, in Teaching. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. My end of year comments, just in cases you didn’t see:

  2. hahaha…I love this. Bowman, you’re amazing!

  3. These are great, Mista Bowman! Thanks for sharing! I did surveys like this too and called them “How’s my Driving?” The strangest comments that stick in my mind followed a period of almost no assigned homework and the comment was “less homework please.” Less than nothing??

    • ah, I call mine “Temperature Checks” because it’s Physics! so funny that we both have weird names for them

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