Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education


Date of this Version

Summer 1979

Document Type



Published in the POD Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Summer 1979)


The Biology Learning Resource Center (BLRC) at the University of Washington has been supporting faculty in instructional improvement for the past five years. In the summer of 1977 consultants from the BLRC began a structured system of intervention following the clinic model developed at the University of Massachusetts by Melnik and Allen (Bergquist and Phillips, 1977). An essential feature of the Clinic model is feedback from students, as well as from the consultant. Consultants observe typical classroom sessions, videotape instruction, administer questionnaires to students and conduct student interviews to develop a profile of teaching, including strengths and weaknesses. Information derived from students has proved invaluable; however, both questionnaires and interviews have serious disadvantages. The first provides quantifiable data but is limited by the scope of items included and may not anticipate student needs. The second provides more adequate data but at a very high cost. An alternative method of ascertaining student perceptions, which we claim overcomes some of the above problems, is the small group evaluation, in which large classes are divided into smaller units that discuss the course according to a structured process and subsequently share their perceptions with the entire class. Results have been encouraging to date, and the method, while still experimental, appears flexible and economical. We wish to describe the process here.