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Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment
The Challenge: To Improve Classes and Learning Outcomes for Students
Many Penn State faculty and students are familiar with the end of semester course evaluation, the Student Rating of Teacher Effectiveness (SRTE). The results of the SRTE provide feedback to the instructor for improving their instructional processes, but this feedback arrives too late to make a difference to those students who have provided it. According to team leader Matthew Levendusky, "students lament that they have little input into the design of their courses. They complete standardized evaluations at the end of each semester, but they have no mechanism to recommend changes during the semester. To give students more of a voice, in fall 1998 the Schreyer Institute for Innovation in Learning and a group of undergraduate students formed several Innovation and Quality (IQ) Teams."
Mary Beth Oliver teaching Mary Beth Oliver teaching Student Group
The Solution: Student Innovation and Quality (IQ) Teams
IQ Teams are a partnership between students and faculty that allows students to give feedback to faculty while the course is underway, rather than waiting until the end of the semester. Working in groups of four to six members, the students take the responsibility for developing the survey questions, collecting and summarizing the data and sharing the results with the faculty member. Renata Engel, director of the Schreyer Institute, adds, "[The] most significant impact has been the student's reaction to their own learning….Being involved in an IQ Team has not only affected the way they learn in that particular course, but has affected the way they approach their other courses."

Mary Beth Oliver, associate professor of Communications, has used IQ Teams in her classroom and has experienced the difference that student involvement can make. "I think the thing that makes students excited about learning more is really having the opportunity to not just hear about other people and how other people do it, but to actually do it themselves….Being involved makes it a much more realistic experience for them. That's what makes them excited."

Renata Engel comments, "Any faculty member who is doing something innovative in a course can benefit from the participation of an Innovation and Quality Team." As Mary Beth Oliver attests, "One potential danger about really working on teaching is that there's a fear that it's going to be too time intensive, but it's not. It doesn't have to be…It is so much fun when it works well. When you walk out of a class and you think, 'Gee. That just went so well.' It just makes teaching that much more rewarding."
Mary Beth Oliver
Mary Beth Oliver
Assoc. Prof. Communications
 One thing I've learned..."
Renetta Engel
Renata Engel
Director, Schreyer Institute
 "Faculty members really want feedback from the students..."
Matt Levendusky
Matt Levendusky
Undergraduate Student, Political Science
 "Innovation & Quality teams are a 4yr old student run effort..."

   Renata Engel
   Matt Levendusky
   Amanda Wetzel
   Students in the
   Innovation and
   Quality Program
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