The evaluation surveys we send out after MatRIC events are very important, we are keen to know how the events were experienced and we want to learn how to do things better. Further, we want to develop some evidence of MatRIC's impact and value within the community of higher education mathematics teachers. This brief report reflects on the responses to the evaluation questionnaires sent out following the three MatRIC events at the end of May and beginning of June 2015, percentages of responses to each event-questionnaire are shown in brackets:
Mathematical Simulation and Visualization Symposium 26-27 May (63%);
Mathematical Modelling Colloquium 28-29 May (71%):
Computer Aided Assessment Colloquium 1-3 June (71%).
For the purpose of this report the responses to the three questionnaires have been combined. As some respondents pointed out there was an error in the questionnaire that required an answer to the question about hotel accommodation – of course several participants did not have hotel accommodation and I apologize for this error.
A number of questions related to the details of administration and organization of the events all respondents indicated this to be satisfactory or better. We note comments that suggest we reflect upon how to improve the way in which information is made available on the MatRIC web-site. However, in response to the question: "How well did the event meet your expectations?" 82% responded either 'extremely well' or 'very well', and 17% 'satisfactory'.
One issue raised both in the evaluation surveys and our internal feedback following the events is that they provided insufficient time for discussion. The working days could be shorter with longer breaks, and possibly the inclusion of some group activity should be considered in future events.
Several questions related to the content of the events' programmes. The MatRIC working groups are at an early stage of development and a consequence is that there could be a wider discussion about content between interested people, both within UiA and from other institutions. The ideal towards which we work is to have functioning working groups including participants from several institutions in each of the areas of MatRIC's activities. Programmes for events within each working group will be devised and refined by the group. We have not yet reached this 'ideal' and consequently the programmes were devised by individual working group coordinators and developed within the MatRIC leader team. The evaluation elicited positive responses about the programmes:
Variation and content: Excellent – 24%, Good – 62%, Satisfactory 14%
Usefulness: Very useful 24%, Useful 42%, Some parts will be useful 32%
Interest: Very interesting 51%, Of some interest 33%, Some parts interesting 15%
More than four fifths of the respondents claimed that 50% or more of the programme was of value, and over three fifths claimed that they would change the way they teach as a result of participation.
59% of respondents reported that they would be more likely to participate in future MatRIC events, and 39% rated their likelihood of future participation about the same. 84% responded that they would be very likely to recommend colleagues to participate in future MatRIC events, the remainder not sure.
One cause for concern is that 65% of respondents participated as a result of personal communication and only 17% because of the announcements made through other channels: the MatRIC Newsletter (5%), MatRIC web pages (6%), INFOMAT (1%) and alle@matematikknettverket (5%). This can be interpreted as demonstrating only limited effectiveness in attracting new people into MatRIC activities and progress towards our goal of reaching the whole of the Norwegian Higher Education community of mathematics teachers.
The evaluation survey combined with other feedback reveals a pleasing response to the events and leads us to believe that MatRIC is addressing the interest and needs of mathematics teachers in higher education. Nevertheless, we know we still have some ground to cover, in particular:
- We have to find ways of attracting colleagues who are not yet part of the MatRIC network.
- We need to build the working groups so that programme planning includes more voices and interests.
There is some indication that MatRIC is making an impact in terms of stimulating a discussion about teaching and learning mathematics in universities and university colleges. Exposing evidence of improvements in students' performance as a result of MatRIC's activity is much more difficult to achieve!