Mid-Semester Student Feedback

By Peter Connor

How satisfied are you with the comments your students write in their end-of-semester student evaluations? Are your students satisfied? Are they getting what they came for? Are you shocked? Surprised? Pleasantly? Not pleasantly? Do their responses indicate areas that could stand a little tune-up? Is your teaching up to snuff? How can you improve the positive response rate of these evaluations? All good questions: Where are the answers?

How about Going Straight to the Horse’s Mouth

Here at CSU—as on many college campuses—mid-semester student evaluations are now available. Unlike other professional reviews and evaluations, these are strictly designed to meet the needs and suit the purposes of individual faculty members, the results of which remain solely in their possession. Personal property, you might say. These evaluations do not ever reach the desk of your superiors or become part of the documentation informing the tenure and other career advancement decisions they make.

Facilitated by faculty peers—professionally trained by Colorado State University’s Institute for Learning and Teaching—mid-semester student evaluations provide the opportunity to gather substantive information about your course, your teaching style, and your students’ attitudes and viewpoints towards them.

Doing this when it counts the most—mid-semester—when there is still time to make adjustments, will have a significant impact on your end-of-semester results: the learning outcomes and satisfaction of your students.

A third of the way into the course is a good time to be thinking about signing up for this.Your students have had enough time to become familiar with you and your pedagogical style and had a good look at the course material, your assignment expectations. They’ve had a chance to talk amongst themselves.

For assistance in gathering mid-semester student feedback, please contact Deb Colbert at The Institute for Learning and Teaching.

In addition, the TILT Web site makes available a great deal of useful Mid-Semester Feedback Program videos and information regarding:

Satisfying all of your students all of the time, though noble, isn’t a very realistic goal. There will always be someone out there with a complaint, legitimate or not; someone who won’t be satisfied, no matter what you do. Satisfying most of your students most of the time, however, is not an unrealistic goal. All you have to do is ask for a little help, a little feedback. Go straight to the horse's mouth. Ask your students for their input. Here are some key questions you will want answered:

What's going right for you in this class? What's going well?

What's not going right? What's not going so well in this class?

What can I do to improve/make things better or you?

What can you do to improve/make things better?