Midsemester surveys are a great way to check in with students and receive formative feedback about your course. When you request feedback from students, you model reflective and responsive practices, which communicate to students that you are dedicated to their learning and value their input. Unlike end-of-semester evaluations, midsemester feedback allows both you and your students to act on the suggestions while the course is ongoing; thus, the process can have an immediate positive impact on everyone’s experience. This page will guide you through the various steps to consider when collecting feedback from students.
Envisioning a Midsemester Feedback Survey
Decide what you would like to know:
You can focus on any number of topics, ranging from students’ reactions to the content and value of course readings to whether they feel the course format enhances learning. The type(s) of information you want to collect will determine the questions that you ask. For example, do you want reactions to a particular reading or guest speaker; a documentary that you have assigned; the effectiveness of class discussions?
Ask for feedback that you can realistically implement:
Look for feedback that will allow you to make adjustments to course content and/or class dynamics. Asking students if they find the course textbook useful if you cannot substitute alternative readings for it may not be a good idea. Instead, consider finding out if the amount of reading is reasonable, if students would like more or less discussion, or if different opportunities to ask questions are needed.
Avoid overly broad questions that don’t provide meaningful information:
Questions such as “What do you like/dislike about the course?” may not provide enough concrete feedback. Additionally, you need to be open to making changes that necessitate your considering new ways of teaching. Avoid asking about changes that cannot or will not be implemented.
Creating a Midsemester Feedback Survey
Set an expectation.
Ideally, youshould put a description of the questionnaire on the course syllabus and on the course calendar to ensure that students understand that the survey is built into the course design (O’Neal-Hixson et al., 2017; Palmer et al., 2016).This reinforcement prompts students to think of the survey as a component of the learning process and can improve response rates.You may also consider giving bonus points for student participation in the questionnaire, which has also been shown to increase student cooperation(Godman, 2015).
Choose your survey platform.
CTRL recommends Qualtrics, an online survey platform available to AU faculty and staff.The results of Qualtrics surveys are anonymized by default but will show the geographic location of survey participants. Be sure to select “Anonymize Responses” in the survey options menus if you would prefer not to see this data.
Develop your survey.
Take a look at the sample surveys on this page for ideas about questions to ask. CTRL staff are also here to work with you to develop your questions.
In class or outside of class?
Decide if you would like students to complete the survey during class or outside of class. Depending on the average attendance for your classes, you may receive a higher response rate if you conduct the survey in class (Reisenwitz, 2016).
Prepare students for the survey.Explain the purpose and process of the questionnaire with students in class and through email before administering it (Guder & Malliaris, 2013; McDonnell & Dodd,2017).Inform students that you are conducting this survey voluntarily to improve their learning experience and assure them that their responses will remain anonymous.
Administer the survey.
If administering the questionnaire in class, conduct it at the beginning of class to ensure students have sufficient time to complete it (Kite, et al., 2015). If administering the questionnaire outside of class, select a window for completion that provides ample opportunity for students to participate; 1-2 weeks or more, depending on the course size and meeting schedule (Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, n.d.).
Please answer the following questions clearly and honestly using specific examples where possible. All responses are anonymous. Neither I nor any other individual will know who answered which evaluation. This evaluation is also completely voluntary. You do not have to fill out the evaluation, although I would appreciate your 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 suggestions do you have that would help your learning in the class?
What is the most important/valuable thing you have learned in this course so far?
What is the least important/valuable thing you have learned?
What, if anything, is still unclear? Is the pace of lectures too fast/too slow/about right?
How many hours a week, on average, do you spend on this reading and assignments?
What suggestions do you have for improving the course?
(O’Neal-Hixson et al.,2017)
What do you LIKE MOST about this course so far?
What do you LIKE LEAST about this course so far?
What suggestions do you have for your INSTRUCTOR to improve your learning experiences in this course?
What might YOU do to improve your own learning experiences and those of other students in this course?
(Snooks et al., 2004)
What (if anything) is interfering with your learning?
What suggestions do you have to improve your learning?
What is your instructor doing that helps you to learn?
(Claremont Colleges Center for Teaching and Learning, n.d.)
Select 3-4 of the following questions:
What aspects of the course are best contributing to your learning? Please try to be as specific as possible.
What aspects of the course are detracting from your learning? Please try to be as specific as possible.
Based on your answers to the previous questions, what can I do differently to make this course a better learning experience?
What can you do differently to make this course a better learning experience?
What did you find of most value from the readings/assignments in the course and why?
What is the most important/valuable thing you have learned in this course so far?
What is the least important/valuable thing you have learned in this course so far?
What, if anything, is still unclear?
Is the pace of the course too fast/slow/about right?
How many hours per week, on average, do you spend on this course outside of class time?
What suggestions do you have for improving this course?
Review and Discuss the Results
Analyze the data.
When the responses have been collected, review the results as soon as possible (Payette & Brown, 2018).You are encouraged to review the results in consultation with CTRL staff. CTRL can assist in the development of strategies for discussing results with students, as well as approaches to implementing the feedback into the class structure.
Discuss the feedback with the class.
Debriefing with students is essential to help students understand how their feedback will impact the course, and it shows students you take their feedback seriously. Start by thanking your students for taking the time to share their perspectives. Acknowledge what is going well in the course, take credit, and remind students about the deliberate decisions you have made to support their learning. Clarify any confusions or questions you have about their insights, and guide the discussion toward actionable changes. Be clear and transparent about which aspects of feedback you will address immediately, which must wait until the course is offered again, and which you will not be able to address and why. Discussing your reasoning with students helps them to understand how instructional decisions are made. (Davis & Tollefson, n.d.).
Encourage students to come to your office hours.
When you share your summary feedback with students, remind everyone that you welcome their coming to discuss specific concerns with you during office hours.
Act on the feedback.
Alter the course, where possible, to adapt to the feedback students expressed. This step is critical to establishing a relationship of mutual trust between instructors and students, as it demonstrates to students that honest feedback can improve their learning experiences (Wickramasinghe & Timpson, 2006).
Goodman, J., Robert A., and Marcia B. (2015). The effect of incentives and other instructor-driven strategies to increase online student evaluation response rates. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 40(7), 958–70.
Guder, F., & Malliaris, M. (2013). Online course evaluations response rates. American Journal of Business Education, 6, 333–338.
Kite, M. E., Subedi, P. C., & Bryant-Lees, K. B. (2015). Students’ perceptions of the teaching evaluation process. Teaching of Psychology, 42(4), 307–314.
Reisenwitz, T. (2016). Student evaluation of teaching: An investigation of non response bias in an online context. Journal of Marketing Education, 38(1), 7–17.
Snooks, M. K., Neeley, S. E., & Williamson, K. M. (2004). From SGID and GIFT to BBQ: Streamlining midterm student evaluations to improve teaching and learning. To Improve the Academy, 22 (1), 110-124. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2334-4822.2004.tb00405.x
Subedi, P. C., & Bryant-Lees, K. B. (2015). Students’ perceptions of the teaching evaluation process. Teaching of Psychology, 42(4), 307–314.