Midsemester Feedback - 10 Tips for a Better Class

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It is now midway through the semester.  How is your course going?  How do you know?

Now is the perfect time to start soliciting formative feedback from your students.  Collecting feedback from students can serve many purposes.  You can ascertain what students are and are not learning as well as how they are learning it, get formative feedback on your teaching, tailor your course to student needs, increase student motivation, improve student learning and give students an avenue to openly communicate with you about the course.  These tips will help you collect, analyze and implement student responses and forward formative teaching and learning excellence in your classroom.

1.       1. Tell your students that their feedback is important, why you are collecting it, and what you plan to do with their input.  If you let them know how they are going to benefit from their efforts you will get much more thorough and thoughtful responses.

2.       2. Give your students precise instructions and examples of how to present constructive feedback.  Often students do not have experience giving formative (midsemester) responses and may never have been asked their opinions about their own learning experiences.  One of the best ways to solicit good feedbacks is to make feedback a routine part of your course.

3.       3. Let your students know that you are looking for constructive feedback (keep reinforcing this) that you can respond to during the current semester.  You are much more likely to be able to respond to concerns about the pace of your course or difficulty/style of exams rather than pre-determined situational factors such as location, time that the class meets, text book etc...

4.       4. Make sure that you only collect data that you can and will respond to.  One of students greatest complaints are assignments and tasks that take/waste time and aren't useful to learning outcomes- asking for feedback you can't or won't use wastes both your and your students' time.

5.       5. If you are teaching a large class you may want to use an online polling system to collect your feedback.  Angel, SurveyMonkey and Google Forms all offer anonymous submission options for you to more easily collect, organize and analyze data. 

6.       6. Focus your feedback questions around the following ideas:

a.       What helps you learn in this course?  Examples?

b.      What changes would make the course more helpful? Suggestions?

7.       7. Assess your positive feedback.  Look at what you're doing well, what the students are responding well to, and what is aiding in student learning.  Keep it up!

8.       8. Carefully look at your feedback and make sure not to focus on a few negative comments.  Compare the responses to your goals and objectives for the course and assess what changes you can make to facilitate student learning.  You may want to review the data with a colleague or make an appointment with a consultant at the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence.  To look more deeply into comments and concerns you may find it helpful to watch yourself lecture or borrow students' lecture notes and compare what you're teaching with that students' are writing down.

9.      9.  It is vitally important that you promptly share your students' feedback with the class and let them know your plans.  You most likely will not be able to attend to all of the concerns and comments, but your students will appreciate knowing what you plan to do, what you cannot do, and why.

10.   10. Follow-up!

Here's to formative excellence in teaching and learning!

We have a wide variety of resources available at SITE which you can look at in more depth here or contact us at site@psu.edu!

http://www.schreyerinstitute.psu.edu/Tools/MidsemesterFeedback

Other resources:

University of Sydney's Quick and Easy Feedback Strategies:

http://www.itl.usyd.edu.au/feedback/gatherstufeed.htm

Cornell's Teaching Evaluation Handbook:

http://www.cte.cornell.edu/resources/teh/teh.html

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