As we continue to transition to face-to-face teaching and learning, it’s helpful for faculty to pause and check in with their students on how things are going—what’s working well and what needs adjustment. Rather than waiting for end-of-semester evaluations, feedback can be gathered in the middle of the semester, when there’s still time to make changes.
While there are a variety of methods to collect student feedback, online surveys offer a simple and effective way to collect anonymous feedback. These surveys are especially effective because of their flexibility, ease of use, range of question types, faster data collection, immediate data reporting, and more accurate quantitative results than traditional methods.
When developing mid-semester course evaluations, instructors may wish to focus on the following areas:
- Course content
- Course instruction
- Classroom dynamics
- Course assignments and feedback
- Course policies
- Instructional technologies
The key is to only solicit feedback on areas you have time to consider, engage with, and realistically act on. Which two or three aspects of your class do you wish to know more about? Questions could be tailored to specific course materials, assignments, or recent changes you’ve made to the course. You may also want to consider asking specific questions about technology in your teaching. For example, “The weekly knowledge checks within VidGrid lectures contribute to my learning” and use a Likert-type scale (“strongly agree,” “agree,” “disagree,” etc.) as response options.
You could also use of one the following Three Question Surveys to gather open-ended feedback:
- What has been most helpful to your learning in the class so far?
- What has been least helpful to your learning in the class so far?
- What could be done to improve your learning in this course?
- What’s working?
- What’s not working?
- What could be improved?
- What should we start doing?
- What should we stop doing?
- What should we continue doing?
ITS supports a number of tools that can be used to create anonymous surveys to gather student feedback.
|Sakai||Sakai offers two possibilities, Polls for multiple-choice questions and Tests & Quizzes tool, offering a range of question types. These surveys can be reused semester over semester.|
|Qualtrics||Qualtrics is a robust survey tool available to Pomona Community users through a university-wide license. It offers a wide variety of question types and helpful reports.|
|Slack||If you’re already using Slack, you can ask students to share their thoughts using one of the many polling tools available.|
|Zoom||Zoom comes with a built-in feature to create multiple-choice poll questions ahead of time or on the spot in real-time during a meeting.|
Regardless of the questions you include in your survey, set aside enough time to process, share, and discuss the feedback and next steps with your students. Results can be discussed live in class or shared out electronically.
Be sure to discuss which comments you plan to act on during the semester, which comments must wait until the next semester, and which ones you will not act on (and why). Sharing your pedagogical rationale for not making specific changes can also be valuable for students – helping clarify the intentions behind your course design and how the curriculum aligns with your understanding of student learning. Thank the students for their feedback and encourage ongoing dialogue.
Mid-semester is a great time to make changes to a course that will improve student learning. If you need more help with tools or strategies for collecting mid-semester feedback, reach out to ITS by submitting a request for a consultation.
- Mid-Semester Feedback. University of Texas at Austin, Faculty Innovation Center.
- Midterm Assessment Strategies. Duke Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, Office of Assessment.
Story By: Susan Pennestri