As the mid-term approaches, it may be a good idea to check in with your students to see how your class is going -- from their perspective. Mid-term “taking stock” exercises can be a good way to confirm that you are on the right track. They also alert you of student concerns which may need to be addressed.
These feedback exercises don’t need to take a lot of time. However, the results that they yield can be very useful to you as a teacher and to your students as learners. Essentially, you want to use a tool (or set of tools) that allows you to gather information that is important to you. Perhaps you want feedback on the effectiveness of your teaching strategies, the pace of the course, the turnaround time on assignments or the level of difficulty of the material. You also want to administer the tools at appropriate times during the term. Enough time needs to be allocated to reviewing the feedback and making changes to the course when possible.
There are a number of easy-to-administer techniques for collecting feedback information. These include but are not limited to using
- blank index cards with a question on each side. Students can answer anonymously
- short, simple questionnaire made up of a few short-answer or multiple- choice questions
- student interviews
- established student liaison committee
- student management team to work with you
- electronic mail/Blackboard
- suggestion boxes that you make available to students
(See the attached pdf for an example of a versatile feedback tool.)
While the timeframe for delivery of these tools is important, so is your response to student feedback. Respond to your students' comments in a timely manner. Carefully consider what they have to say and inform them of any changes that will result from their feedback. Even if you decide that certain requested changes can not be made, explain the rationale behind that decision. This acknowledgement will demonstrate your concern for their learning needs.
Check-in exercises can be a simple but powerful way to maintain a positive rapport with your students. As another tool for stimulating dialogue, it can be a means for teachers and students to clarify course expectations and build a positive learning environment.
The following resources provide a great selection of tips and techniques
Weimer, Maryellen, Parrett, Joan, L., and Kerns, Mary-Margaret, (2002).How Am I Teaching? : Forms and Activities for Acquiring Instructional Input. Madison, WI : Atwood Publishing.
(Available at all LRC library locations: call number LB2838.W45)
Davis, Barbara Gross, (2001).Tools for Teaching.
San Francisco, CA : Jossey-Bass Publishers.
(Available at all LRC library locations: call number LB2331.D373)
Tell us what you do
Are you already engaged in soliciting student feedback? Want to share your tips with your faculty colleagues? Please send in your ideas.