What is mid-semester feedback?
Mid-semester feedback lets instructors "check the pulse” of their class partway through the semester. By surveying students, especially after a chance to evaluate evidence of learning, instructors and students alike can gain practical and actionable insights about what is working as well as recommendations for improving learning and teaching.
Why collect mid-semester feedback?
Instructors gather mid-semester feedback for a variety of reasons including to:
- make sure what they're doing is connecting with what students are doing
- support and enhance student learning and engagement in that semester's course
- assess their own instructional approach the first time teaching a course
- discover the impact of instructional changes from the previous semester
- improve their teaching
- model reflective practice and demonstrate their care and commitment to students' success
- avoid surprises in their end-of-semester course evaluations
How do you collect mid-semester feedback?
1. Things to consider as you begin:
- When is the best time to collect this feedback?
- A good time to collect this feedback is after the first major exam or unit break, but still early enough to be able to make adjustments if necessary (usually 4-8 weeks into the semester).
- How many students are in your class?
- For large-enrollment courses, consider using closed-ended questions with very few open-ended questions.
- For courses with a fewer than 100 students, consider using a mixture of open-ended and closed-ended questions.
- What resources do you have for evaluating results?
- If you have TAs or other support, consider including more open-ended questions.
- If you are doing this alone, then the size of your class becomes a major factor.
- What are you most interested in learning about from the feedback collected:
- Discovering what instructional strategies or course policies are and are not working well to support student learning?
- Determining how well specific changes made to the course are working?
- Identifying patterns of student learning behavior that are working better than others?
- What's the best format for collecting the feedback?
- Canvas allows you to award students points for completing an anonymous survey if you would like to incentivize student participation. Learn More about using Canvas to collect anonymous mid-semester feedback.
- Qualtrics is a powerful survey tool with a wide variety of question types and helpful reports.
- Sometimes a live discussion might seem like the most fitting setting for hearing from students. Consider letting an outside colleague (another grad student that's not your TA, a fellow faculty member, or someone from the CTL) facilitate a feedback session with your students while you step out of the room. This informal focus group approach can provide additional insights beyond individual surveys.
2. Select or create a brief feedback form for use during class
- We developed a few forms with UT faculty during a workshop on mid-semester feedback. Feel free to download and modify these forms to better suit your needs.
- If you would like to create your own feedback form, remember these strengths of each type of question:
- Open-ended questions provide students with an opportunity to share about classroom dynamics or specific strategies that might not otherwise be mentioned.
- Closed-ended questions help get a sense of trending answers across the class and are extremely helpful for large-enrollment courses or when focusing on the impact of specific strategies.
3. Discuss the purpose and process with your students
- Explain to students why you are collecting anonymous feedback.
- Provide an overview of the process, including when it will take place, how you plan to use the feedback, and when you will share results with the class.
- Download and share advice how students can give constructive feedback.
4. Administer survey
- Online: Message students when the survey becomes available.
- In-class: do it at the start of class to avoid opinions being based on that day's class, give your students 5-7 minutes to complete the form, collect the surveys in a way that ensures anonymity.
- Thank your students for participating in the process of improving the class.
5. Analyze the results
- Closed-ended questions are easy to organize by mean and standard deviation but hard to act upon when scores on a particular question are low. One way to handle this is following up with an open-ended question addressing only the areas receiving low scores.
- Learn More about how you can organize open-ended comments for making better sense of them.
- Reflect on your teaching in light of the results and identify realistic changes that can be made this semester.
- Summarize the results in a way that you can share with your class.
6. Respond to feedback
- Share your results and reflections with students and let them know what will and will not change as a result of their feedback.
- Seize the opportunity to highlight what is working, as well as to clarify your rationale for using certain teaching strategies.
- Address opportunities for what you as the instructor and they as the learner can do to make the most of the learning opportunities remaining in the semester.