No matter how long one has been teaching, it seems that mid-semester finds a way to sneak up too quickly. But it is that time of the season, and so I thought I’d offer several different ways you might want to consider gathering student feedback about your course. Informal and quick by design, midterm feedback can nonetheless have powerful and positive effects on one’s teaching and ultimately, on students’ learning.
Here are the important things to consider when creating and eliciting midterm student feedback:
1. Decide the most important 2-3 aspects of class that you really want to know about. If there is something that you cannot change (the university-scheduled time of the final exam, for example), do not ask for feedback. I’ve attached some suggestions for what you might want to ask, but the only right answer is to ask questions to which you truly want answers.
2. Decide what method of gathering student feedback works best for you. Is it:
- An online survey you can build yourself;
- A five-minute portion of class in which you ask students to answer your questions anonymously;
- A facilitated discussion between your students and a member of the CTL, with you not in the room;
3. After collecting the feedback, follow up with your students. Asking for feedback without following up can actually hurt your class, in that you’ve tacitly suggested to students that their opinions might not matter (or that you’re ignoring them). Following up does not have to take a great deal of time but you’ll want to:
- Clarify any confusions or misunderstandings about their feedback.
- Give a brief account of which of their suggestions you will act upon this term, which must wait until the course is next offered, and which you will not act upon and why.
- Let students know how they can participate in improving the course as well.
- Thank your students for their comments and invite their ongoing participation in helping you improve the course.
Remember that we at the CTL are always here to help you as well. You may just have a question about evaluations or interpreting the results, or want to consider how you might plan for using midterm evaluations in the future. Whatever your questions are, I’d like to hear them.
Here’s to great teaching and learning, and also to a wonderful weekend.
With warm regards,
Nancy S. Niemi, Ph.D.
Director, Faculty Teaching Initiatives
Supplementary Materials and Resources
Contact Dr. Niemi via email Nancy.Niemi@yale.edu or phone 203.432.8644 with thoughts about the collection and/or to receive these notes in your inbox.