As part of our departmental assessment, I have conducted a survey among students in advanced philosophy classes regarding how useful they found our entry-level courses in preparing them for the philosophy course they are currently taking. I asked students to rate how well the entry-level course prepared them to read philosophy, write philosophy, reconstruct & debate philosophy (this mirrors our departmental course learning objectives for Intro to Philosophy), as well as how well it prepared them overall. I also asked students what activities they had encountered in their entry-level course (e.g. lecturing, class discussion, writing workshops, etc). Then I asked to name the 3 activities they found the most helpful and the 3 they found the least helpful.
I have just started crunching through the data, but have found some interesting correlations.
For example, though a large number of students cited peer-review as one of the least helpful activities, students who had encountered peer-review in their classes rated themselves as being better prepared to write philosophy than students who had not. The gap between those who had encountered peer-review and those who had not was larger than that for students who had encountered in-class writing exercise vs. those who had not and between those who had encountered writing workshops vs. those who had not, though there was a substantial gap favoring those writing activities as well. However, students had rated in-class writing exercises and writing workshops as helpful whereas they had not rated peer-review as helpful. It is not surprising that students might not have the best access to what activities they learn the most from, but I found the results to be interesting. Of course, the sample here is small—about 80 students—but I thought the data was interesting enough to share. Thoughts?