Have you been wondering if the ways you’re engaging your students in the first half of the semester have been effective from the student perspective? Collecting feedback from your students is a great way to find out! To do this we have a few models that may provide useful insight into how you can help students meet the course learning outcomes.
Why might you wish to collect feedback now?
Gathering feedback at mid-semester allows instructors to:
- make sure that course lessons connected with students
- find out where students need support
- discover the impact of instructional changes you’ve made this semester before summative course evaluations
- uncover changes that you may yet want to make for this semester
- avoid surprises in end-of-semester evaluations
What are some of the best practices for collecting feedback from students, mid-semester?
CATL interviewed Kris Vespia, Associate Professor in the Psychology department to answer this question. Additionally, Todd Dresser reviews how to create a survey within Canvas.
How should I ask students for this kind of feedback?
We have a few models and sample surveys you can download and import into your Canvas courses. Surveys in Canvas are a special kind of “quiz” that has unique options available. If you’re unsure how to import Canvas resources into your class, see these instructions. For information on how to retrieve survey results in Canvas, see this resource.
- Short Survey
- What is hindering your learning that your instructor should stop doing?
- What should your instructor start doing to improve your learning?
- What is helpful to your learning that your instructor should continue doing?
- Download a sample Start-Stop-Continue survey to import into Canvas
- Open-ended questions Examples:
- What in this class so far has helped your learning the most?
- What in this class so far has hindered your learning?
- What suggestions do you have to improve this course?
- Download a sample open-ended question survey to import into Canvas
- Plus / Delta
- Example Plus/Delta form
- Record Plus (ask students to give you an example of something they liked)
- Record Delta (ask students to give you an example of something they’d like to change)
- Download a sample Plus/Delta survey to import into Canvas
Feedback focus groups
CATL is currently refining a process that allows for instructors to benefit from feedback generated through a small group discussion. This process involves a neutral third party, a CATL staff member, conducting a form of a focus group with students. This would likely take 15-20 minutes. The feedback from the students is then synthesized and communicated to the instructor.
Process adapted from Northeastern University’s Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning Through Research
The steps in this process are:
- The instructor and CATL staff member meet virtually to discuss goals and agree on questions for the session.
- The consultant visits the class or a group of students from the class virtually. The instructor introduces the CATL staff member and explains that they have asked them to gather feedback, then leaves the virtual meeting.
- Students are asked to compile responses to one question. For large classes, students are divided into small groups. The groups then report out while the CATL staff member records responses. This process is repeated for each question.
- The CATL staff member synthesizes the feedback and reports back to the instructor. They may discuss how the data can inform teaching practices at this point.
The benefits of this process include:
- The feedback is being gathered by a neutral third party, which may encourage honesty among students.
- The consultant can help you shape the questions asked of students and interpret results.
If you’re interested in piloting feedback focus groups, or would like more information about designing or implementing mid-semester evaluations, please email CATL@UWGB.EDU.
Helping students self-reflect
Mid-semester is also a time in which you can help your students critically self-reflect on their own actions for their performance at this point in the course. Here are some questions to help frame the ways you’d like students to think metacognitively about their choices throughout the semester:
- What do students have the ability to change going forward in the course?
- Where might students improve their time management?
- Might there be a place for peer-to-peer feedback that could help build community and increase personal responsibility?
- What types of assessments might students need to better prepare in order to be successful in the course?
What are some strategies you can provide to students to help them get back on track? Self-reflection, metacognitive exercises, and exam debriefings are a few of the strategies that other teaching and learning centers have created resources around:
- Here are a few suggestions from Hampshire College about student self and narrative evaluations: https://sites.hampshire.edu/ctl/student-self-evaluations/
- Illinois State University offers some canned application self-assessment questions as well as a few reflection questions: https://ctlt.illinoisstate.edu/downloads/lifts/Lift38StudentSelfAssessment.pdf
- Duquesne University provides a few examples of using exam wrappers, self-evaluation assignments, and assignment resubmission: https://www.duq.edu/about/centers-and-institutes/center-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-and-learning-at-duquesne/student-self-assessment
For any of these methods, you could create an assignment that doesn’t count towards the final grade or could be an opportunity for extra credit. Here’s how to set up extra credit in a Canvas course.