While students provide feedback on our teaching in end-of-semester evaluations of instruction, by that point in the semester, it is too late to apply that feedback to improve your current students’ learning experience. Whereas course evaluation feedback can help you inform changes for subsequent semesters of teaching, mid-semester feedback allows you to adjust your approaches immediately to improve student learning and achievement.
Mid-semester feedback gives you the opportunity to tailor student feedback to your particular course and your students’ needs. It also provides you with the opportunity to engage students in a dialogue about their feedback and what it reveals about their experiences in your course. Importantly, demonstrating your own efforts to consider choices and make adjustments and improvements based on feedback models the kind of behavior we want students to adopt.
In this study, Hurney et al. (2014) examined a mid-semester course evaluation process called small group instructional diagnosis (SGID) in two different formats: traditional and student-centered. They found that both SGIDs produced favorable student perceptions of the learning environment, while the student-centered SGID had a significantly higher impact.
In this peer-reviewed article, Payette and Brown (2018) discuss a typical mid-semester feedback process step-by-step. They also share research on mid-semester feedback methods and provide alternative approaches that require fewer resources and/or less time commitment for faculty.
University of Connecticut’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning offers “10 Reasons Why to Collect Mid-semester Feedback,” options for how to collect that feedback, suggestions for what to do with the results, and numerous examples of feedback surveys based on course modality.
Choose one of the following strategies to implement
Encourage students to complete a short survey in class or online around the mid-semester point of your course. Tailor your survey to the kind of information you want to gather about your students’ learning experiences in your class. Making the survey anonymous will encourage students to be honest and forthcoming. In Blackboard’s Original Course View, you can use the Survey tool. If you are using Ultra Course View, anonymous surveys are not currently available (they will be eventually), but you can use Qualtrics or Microsoft Forms to distribute your survey to students. For a quick and easy approach, you can use this link to duplicate a sample mid-semester survey in Microsoft Forms, make any changes you would like to it, and share the link to your students.
Ask a colleague to observe one of your class sessions to provide you with confidential feedback on your teaching approaches and observations on student engagement in your class. Before your colleague observes your class, meet with them to share course materials, discuss learning objectives and provide context for the class they will observe, and discuss what kind of feedback you want your colleague to focus on (including providing them with a feedback form if desired). After your colleague observes your course, you can meet with them again to discuss what they observed and ask for clarification on any written feedback they have provided.
CITL can conduct a limited number of confidential classroom observations each semester, as well, if you are interested in being observed by someone outside of your department.
Conduct your mid-semester survey as a live focus group with your students to gather collective feedback. You can lead the focus group, but you may get more (or more honest) feedback if you have a neutral third-party, such as a faculty colleague, conduct the focus group instead. It may be a good idea to break the class up into smaller groups for focus group sessions so that everyone has a chance to contribute to the conversation. Focus groups can be conducted in person, but they could also be conducted virtually to make it more convenient for students and the facilitator. Alternatively, you could break students up into groups and provide them with a limited number of questions they should compile responses to as a small group in a shared document. The documents can then be shared with you anonymously or you can have students share them aloud in class as you take notes on their feedback.
Students' lives are complex, so the support they need is equally complex. Here are a few more resources on connecting students with support resources.
Please review the resources and select at least one of the recommended strategies to implement. Make a note to yourself about the strategy you used and the impact that it had.
In two weeks, we will share resources on collecting mid-semester feedback. If you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, feel free to let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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