Time for a Mid-Semester Tune Up: What’s Working? What’s Not?

As you are enjoying your spring break week, now is a perfect time to plan for the mid-semester feedback approach with your students.  A faculty colleague told me today the middle third of the semester is the most challenging part, as energy is lagging and students and faculty are “in the thick of it.”

Mid-semester feedback is a simple approach that allows you to get a good grasp on how the semester is going for your students (what’s working? What’s not?).

It provides you with valuable information that you can use to tweak components that need a tune up, or solidify valuable approaches that your students say helps them learn.

We are re-posting last year’s blog post on mid-semester feedback (below).

It provides everything you need to know to organize and launch your own mid-semester feedback survey with your students.

Happy Spring Break!

Beyond Student Course Evaluations: Strategies for Leveraging Formative and Summative Feedback in the Interest of Better Learning

iStock_000004877849MediumDo the words “student course evaluations” make you flinch? As Mary Clement recently suggested, the time to consider feedback from your students is before the end of the semester. To make your evaluations an opportunity as opposed to a threat, here are a few things to consider:

1.     Read your past evaluations.
Your student course evaluations can provide useful data, and they do not serve you well if you do not read them closely. If you are nervous about taking a good, hard look, seek out a trusted colleague with whom you can compare notes. You will be surprised how much differently an objective set of eyes can interpret what students had to say about your course.

2.     Don’t wait to gather input from your students about their learning.
NOW is the time to conduct a mid-semester feedback with your students (Learn more about this invaluable tool here). Here are three mid-semester feedback questions that you can ask your students NOW:
  • What in the class so far has helped your learning the most?
  • What in the class so far has hindered your learning?
  • What suggestions do you have to improve the course or address concerns you might have?

3.    Quick! Share your response! Close the loop!
Demonstrate that you are open to feedback by talking about some of the ways that you have responded to feedback in the past. This small step may help students feel comfortable enough to share other feedback (both positive and negative) earlier in the semester…when you have time to respond. Sharing your response with students can also include them in the process of evaluating whether your response was a workable solution.

4.    Start small.
Don’t try to change everything all at once. For one thing, it’s nearly impossible. Secondly, if you change everything, you won’t really know what it was that made the difference.  After you’ve selected one or two items that might be worth adjusting or addressing, outline how you might incorporate that change. You might even consider making an appointment with a staff member at the Delphi Center to think through incorporating the small change. Appointments are confidential and you guide the focus of the conversation. Learn more here.
Learn more about student evaluations and some common formative feedback tools by checking out the resources below.

What are some of the ways you collect feedback throughout the semester about your students’ learning?  What changes have you made in response to your students’ feedback?

Making Sense of Student Evaluation Feedback
This useful site offers tips for interpreting student evaluations.  It also provides summaries of research on student evaluations.

Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)
CATs are formative evaluation methods that serve two purposes: they can help you to assess the degree to which your students understand the course content and they can provide you with information about the effectiveness of your teaching methods.
Most are designed to be quick and easy to use and each CAT provides different kinds of information.  Learn more here:

Critical Incident Questionnaires (CIQs)
Dr. Stephen Brookfield’s CIQ is a useful tool for gathering information about how students are experiencing their learning and your teaching.  This site provides detailed information about the CIQ: what it is, advantages of using it, and instructions about how to administer, analyze, and respond to the data you obtain from it: http://stephenbrookfield.com/Dr._Stephen_D._Brookfield/Critical_Incident_Questionnaire.html

Leave a Reply