Supplemental Resources: Supporting Student Learning

Strategies for Inviting Mid-Semester Student Feedback

Structure

A mid-semester evaluation of no more than three questions generally elicits the most student engagement. It’s possible to include a short series of Likert scale ratings as one question, something that can provide feedback for comparison while also keeping students’ survey fatigue to a minimum.

Framing

  • Explain the purpose of the survey to students. Something like, “In this mid-semester feedback survey, I would like your opinion on how the class is going for you, what is helping you learn, and what specifically might we improve over the rest of the semester. This survey is entirely anonymous – we welcome feedback that is sincere, respectful, and concrete.”

Example questions

  • What is helping you learn in this class?
  • What specific changes would help you learn better? Please be concrete.
  • If you want to get a bit more specific on the level of usefulness/helpfulness of key elements in the class, you could design one additional Likert-scale question listing activities/course components and asking the students to rate each item. For instance:
  • Please rate how helpful each of the following course elements has been to your learning:
    • Lectures
      (extremely helpful; very helpful; somewhat helpful; slightly helpful; not at all helpful)
    • Readings
      (extremely helpful; very helpful; somewhat helpful; slightly helpful; not at all helpful)
    • [Another category – ex. “discussion posts”]
      (extremely helpful; very helpful; somewhat helpful; slightly helpful; not at all helpful)
    • [Another category]
      (extremely helpful; very helpful; somewhat helpful; slightly helpful; not at all helpful)

A different approach: As one of their three questions, some instructors find it useful to include a reflection question about students’ own learning process as a way to encourage student self-regulation of productive and unproductive strategies.

Ex.What are two things that you can do to advance your own learning in this class?

In addition to promoting self-directed change, the answers to this question can help instructors see opportunities to support students’ resolutions in concrete ways.

  • For instance, if a number of students said “I think it would be helpful for me to attend office hours if my schedule allows,” an instructor might come back to the lecture and say “A number of you mentioned that office hours meetings might be helpful, and I know that scheduling is a problem for some, so I wanted to let you know that you are also welcome to arrange a virtual office hours meeting with me using Skype.

Sample Survey Variations

  • Version 1 – includes self-reflection question
  • Version 2 – ‘Bare Bones Questionnaire’ Variation
  • Version 3A – Includes general Likert scale
  • Version 3B – Includes more targeted Likert scale

Format

You may find it helpful to administer this survey online. Qualtrics is available to UW-Madison instructors for free, and it provides electronic feedback so you don’t have to spend too much time deciphering student writing. Also, the software itself can do some analysis for you. Likewise, Google forms can be very useful.

Closing the Feedback Loop

As always, when you seek student information, it’s a good idea to set aside time in lecture or reach out in an email to thank students and to describe how that information shapes your own approach to the course.

  • Are there things you’ll change? How?
  • Are there things that you won’t change (or can’t change)? Why?

 

 

Acknowledgments

This resource was compiled by Chris Castro and Naomi Salmon of Madison Teaching and Learning Excellence (MTLE).

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

MTLE Resources by Christian Castro, Naomi Salmon, and Madison Teaching and Learning Excellence is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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