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Gathering Mid-Semester Feedback from Students

Center for Teaching and Learning provides tips for faculty using feedback to refine their pedagody.
Oct 10, 2019

How do you determine which aspects of your teaching are resonating with students, and if any are missing the mark? Have you ever been surprised by a student comment on a course evaluation and wish you'd had the opportunity to address it earlier? Do you feel like things are going well, and wonder if your students feel the same?

From our vantage point as instructors, we can miss aspects of our teaching and the learning environment that our students experience. Gathering mid-semester feedback allows us to calibrate our perceptions, make any adjustments we deem appropriate, and have positive and productive conversations with students about why we are choosing particular instructional approaches.

An easy way to collect feedback is by asking students to take a few moments to answer three straightforward questions that intentionally keep the focus on the learning:

  • What aspects of this course are helping you learn?
  • What is getting in the way of your learning?
  • What can I do to better support your learning? 

A similar approach is to ask students what you should "stop," "start," and "continue" doing in class. We suggest adding a metacognitive layer and also asking students what they should stop, start, and continue doing to support their own learning. There are many variations on these questions, and you can always add more specific ones.

What one student loves, another may not find helpful. Consider whether the feedback you receive affirms that you are reaching different learners in different ways, or points to opportunities to diversify your approaches. Look for patterns rather than focusing on "outlier" comments.

Ultimately, you don't have to change approaches that you feel are important to achieving your pedagogical goals. The point is to have a transparent conversation with students about what you are doing in class, and why. In your follow-up conversation with students, acknowledge their observations. Let them know if you plan to make any changes, and why. When it comes to activities that are not negotiable, being transparent about the rationale behind your methodologies can result in more student motivation and investment in the work.

Let us know if we can support your mid-semester feedback process, or any other teaching needs! Browse our upcoming CTL programs or contact us to schedule a formative and confidential teaching observation, individual consultation, or custom workshop.

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