Gather Mid-Semester Feedback Easily
Last week, I wrote to you about the importance of asking your students for feedback: how it promotes metacognition and improves student engagement and participation in the course.
This week, I’m writing to offer an easy way to gather that feedback: sign up for the Center for Teaching and Learning’s Mid-Semester Feedback program, and we will help you gather that information.
This program gives your students a way to provide you with confidential and anonymous feedback on how the course is organized, the alignment between the assignments and the course's goals and objectives, and how students respond to your teaching style and to the resources you provide. Preview the questions; you will have the option of adding 1-2 questions of your own to the survey.
Once you’ve registered and told us which courses to survey, staff from the CTL will set up the survey and invite your students to respond. After your students complete the survey, we will send you the survey results and some recommendations so you can decide how best to respond to your students' needs. Sometimes your response might include making a change to an aspect of the course. Sometimes your response might be a conversation with your students, helping them understand the rationale behind your design of the course. And sometimes your response might be a request for even more information, perhaps by soliciting information through a minute paper.
- Introduce the idea of the survey to your students in advance. Tell your students that you want to learn their perspective on the course so that you can improve their experience and help them learn. If students know their responses matter, they are more likely to complete the survey.
- Consider student responses carefully. Look at the positive responses, to see what you are doing well, and look at the suggestions for improvement. You can usually group these suggestions into several categories:
- ideas you can implement this semester (e.g., returning homework assignments more quickly);
- ideas you would have to implement in a subsequent semester (e.g., changing the grading structure of the course); and
- ideas that you will not change for pedagogical reasons (e.g., the number of exams).
- Respond promptly to student feedback and thank them for their input. Critical to the success of this process is that you circle back to the students. Summarize what you learned, so students have a sense of what their peers said, also. Plan on sharing 3-5 items with the class. Tell students what you will change in response to their suggestions. If there are other aspects of the course that you will change in a subsequent semester, tell the students why those things have to wait. If students requested something that just isn't feasible, explain why the structure you have developed is important to helping them learn.
- Keep your tone positive. Thank the students for their comments and suggestions. Make it clear that you respect their role in making the course work, and invite them to be your partner in improving the course.
One advantage of this approach over the standard end-of-semester course evaluations is that early-semester feedback occurs early enough in the semester that you can make changes in the course right away and see their effect. Students respond positively when their comments result in changes to the course, leading to improved student attitudes about the class and/or instructor in the end-of-semester evaluations (Keutzer, 1993; Overall and Marsh, 1979).
Give it a try! Sign up by Thursday, March 6, 2023 and we'll get your survey out the following week.
- Keutzer, C. S. (1993). Midterm evaluation of teaching provides helpful feedback to instructors. Teaching Psychology, 20(4), 238–240.
- Overall, J. U., & Marsh, H. W. (1979). Midterm feedback from student: Its relationship to instructional improvement and students' cognitive and affective outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 71(6), 856–865.