Do you ever find yourself wishfully thinking “it would have been nice if I had known…” while reading over you course evaluations? Or have you ever implemented changes based on previous end-of course evaluations only to discover that the new group of students would have preferred the original iteration of your class? If you find yourself wishing you could implement changes based on feedback received for the same group of students, mid-term feedback is for you!
Mid-term evaluations are formative feedback tools that can provide valuable information about how students are experiencing a course. When properly constructed and implemented, both you and your students can benefit from the potential enhancements to the learning experience. You will gain a sense of satisfaction that the learning experience that you have developed is being received by your students as you intended and your students will be grateful for your efforts as they help to shape their own learning environment to better suit their needs.
Ideally, the tools used to obtain feedback should pose some simple questions that can be answered within the class period. Brevity and anonymity are best.
Some midterm feedback strategies include:
- Traditional Evaluation Form: These questionnaires can be prepared with a number of Likert-style statements along with a few open-ended questions.
- Start, Stop, Continue: Students are asked to take note of the things that they would like to see “start” in the class, “stop” in the class, or “continue” taking place in the class.
- The One Minute Paper: By posing 2-3 guiding questions, students are able to identify the most significant things they would like changed in the course. For example: ”What are the two or three significant concepts that you have learned thus far?”, “What questions do you still have about the topics we have covered?” and “What could I have done differently to help you understand the lecture material?”
Depending on the experience of the students, you may have to provide more or less instruction and examples in order to obtain useful feedback. While upper year students will tend to be more skilled at providing constructive feedback, first and second year students may not be used to being asked for their opinion on teaching and learning. Make it clear that you are looking for constructive feedback that you can respond to immediately, this term, for their benefit.
When constructing the feedback questions, make certain that you are only collecting data that you can and will use or respond to. Regardless of the class and level, let students know why you are asking for their input, how you will share it and what you will do with it. Do not mislead the students through your choice of questions or lack of explanation into believing that everything is open for discussion.
Once you have collected the feedback, summarize and interpret it as soon as you can. Then, share it back at the next class if at all possible. Sharing the feedback with all students lets them know that what they say matters and it also lets the students know what their peers value or have difficulty with in the class. Next, identify how you intend to respond and why. If you can’t change something, that’s fine, but make certain you let the students know why. Often students are not aware of certain limitations associated with the course and they appreciate knowing. Clarify what role you as an instructor will play in implementing the changes as well as what role the students will need to play to make the change a success.
The preparation of a summary that highlights what things can be changed, what things can only be changed the next time the course is taught and those things that cannot be changed at all can provide a good overview, particularly in large classes where you will need to group and categorize the responses you receive. This type of transparent and honest exchange goes a long way towards building trust and respect with your class even if you are unable to immediately address a recommendation that has been made.
Consider using mid-term evaluations as another component in your teaching professional development. The creation, use and response to mid-term feedback is a proactive way to help avoid the risk that problems may persist unresolved throughout the course. Not only can this mid-stride feedback help to improve the learning environment for the students, but it can help improve your teaching evaluations at the end of the term as well.
Whether you are looking to bounce around ideas or for specific resources on collecting and using midterm feedback, do not hesitate to contact me, Monica Vesely, or your faculty liaison for a meeting.
Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Davis, B. G. (2009). Tools for teaching. 2nd ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Svinicki, M., & McKeachie, W. J. (2011). McKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Yao, Y., & Grady, M. L. (2005). How do Faculty make formative use of student evaluation feedback?: A multiple case study. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 18(2), 107-126.