Mid-semester Formative Feedback

Instructors have options on how to prompt for student feedback. Many choose to create and administer their own custom surveys, student self-assessments, or feedback forms. The benefits include very specific information on the course experience, easy adaptability, ability to streamline, and control over timing aligned with the course events. Custom prompts might also signal to your students how they can be successful in your class. These questionnaires can be completed in class as a hardcopy, or online e.g., the using anonymous survey tool in HuskyCT or following a link to a Qualtrics form.

Some instructors prefer administration by the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, OIRE. Aggregate responses are not only anonymous (without revealing the identity of the student making a specific remark), but also do not track whether someone participated or not. Students may feel they can speak their minds more freely because of that. Your options include a general course survey (find sample surveys see below).

To request this OIRE service follow this link: Mid-Semester Formative Feedback – Online Forms Using Qualtrics or contact seteaching@uconn.edu with questions regarding data collection or analyses.

CETL consultants can assist you with customizing your mid-semester survey, administering your survey during class, generating a themed summary of results, or administering alternative forms of feedback, e.g., small group analysis. To learn more contact cetl@uconn.edu.

10 Reasons Why to Collect Mid-semester Feedback

Instructors are gathering mid-semester feedback for a variety of reasons, including to

  1. Ensure that intentions for teaching and learning outcomes are meeting needs of your current students.
  2. Support and enhance student learning, motivation, engagement and sense of belonging while the course is still ongoing
  3. Assess their own instructional approach, especially when a course is taught for the first time
  4. Monitor the impact of instructional changes from the previous semester or previous unit
  5. Refine specific assignments or other aspects of their teaching
  6. Model reflective practice to their students and demonstrate care and commitment to students' success
  7. React quickly to external changes of circumstances or events that might impact the course
  8. Embrace students as learning partners and to make visible comments are heard by acknowledging and implementing reasonable suggestions. This will help to avoid surprises in their end-of-semester course evaluations.
  9. Reflect on own professional development needs.
  10. Document engagement in teaching improvement and formalize goal setting in teaching practice. Material, e.g., for a portfolio, are the reflections in response to the midsemester feedback results (not the survey itself)

What Can You do with Mid-semester Feedback Results?

Do not get stuck on a single comment, rather identity patterns. Look at both, critical comments and aspects of your classroom that are appreciated; you don’t want to change something that’s working for your students.

Communicate back to students, show them that their feedback means something to you. This may improve motivation to contribute to the end of semester SETs. Invite them to clarify their suggestions if needed, but do not single anybody out.

Formative feedback is intended to be used confidentially. You can decide to share the results and your corresponding changes with your department head or teaching mentor for input. If you are including the results in your teaching portfolio, add a reflection on lessons learned and ways you are using student feedback to improve student learning in your classes.

For those instructors who would like to go further, consultations can be arranged for a one-time observation or for ongoing work with feedback and successive observations. Please contact cetl@uconn.edu.

Sample Mid-semester Feedback Surveys by Course Modality

Please check the Provost’s site for most recent definitions of course modalities.

Our colleagues at the Institutional Effectiveness Office at Western Carolina State University developed the surveys below and have given us permission to use them. These are your options when you request OIRE survey administration.

These surveys can also serve as point of departure for the development of your own customized survey. Keep in mind that open ended question prompts often result in the most useful pieces of information and can help to shift the focus away from instructor performance to emphasize the student learning experiences.

When building your own survey, ask about specific, actionable behaviors in areas where you can make changes in the remaining weeks of the semester. Some possible areas of focus are learning environment, classroom activities, pace of course, clarity and communication, assignments, or course materials. It can also be useful to ask students to self-assess their preparation, engagement, and skill development in the class. Avoid general satisfaction questions.

General Course Feedback
This survey is useful for most classes regardless of format and uses open-ended questions that focus on student learning.

Online Course
In an online course, all required contact hours are internet-based. Contact includes instruction, learning activities, and interactions (both student-student and/or student-instructor). Completion of assessments and exams in-person at authorized proctoring locations may be required at the instructor’s discretion (this includes semester and final assessments and exams).

Blended/Hybrid Course
In a blended/hybrid course, online contact displaces some portion of the required contact hours that would normally take place in a scheduled face-to-face course. Contact includes instruction, learning activities, and interactions (both student-student and/or student-instructor).

In an in-person course, all required contact hours occur during regularly scheduled face-to-face class meeting times. Contact includes instruction, learning activities, and interactions (both student-student and/or student-instructor). An in-person course is considered web-enhanced when online course elements are provided to students but do not displace any of the required contact hours that would normally occur in a scheduled in-person class.

Seminar Course
Seminar courses are typically small classes, emphasizing discussion, presentations by students, and written assignments. In a seminar course, all required contact hours occur during regularly scheduled face-to-face class meeting times.

Distance Learning Course
These classes never meet in person, but you are expected to deliver instruction synchronously at the times for which the class is scheduled. You can also decide to replace some synchronous instruction with asynchronous instruction. Students will participate online using WebEx, Blackboard Collaborate, or Microsoft Teams. As a default, DL will not include a classroom assignment, but one can be requested if the instructor would like to teach from a campus classroom; a classroom for DL will be considered based on availability with preference given to courses with an in-person component.

Laboratory Course
Laboratory courses are generally hands-on, workshop component of a class usually held in a laboratory. The laboratory time is separate from the lecture although it is often associated to a lecture(s).

Internship, Practica, and Clinical Course
Internship, practica and clinical courses are generally Structured practical experience in a professional program, supervised by a practitioner and/or faculty member with whom the student works closely. These classes are often held off campus at a professional location.

Independent Study or Research Course
Independent Study or research courses generally provides an individual student with an opportunity for original study or investigatiLecture/Lab (Project) Courselization on a more autonomous basis.

Lecture/Lab (Project) Course
Lecture lab (project) courses are generally classes that have some lecture and some hands-on components but do not require a separate time like a traditional lab.

Lecture/Lab (Traditional) Course
Lecture lab (traditional) courses are generally hands-on, workshop component of a class usually held in a laboratory. The laboratory time is separate from the lecture although it is often associated to a lecture.

Studio/Performance Course
Studio/Performance courses are generally those with a hands-on workshop component of design/dance/music in the arts courses.

Activities Course
Activities courses are generally held under the supervision of a faculty member or group of faculty in which the student conducts research or participates in activities that are expected to lead to a specific project such as dissertation, thesis, report, or publication.