Mid-semester Formative Feedback

Instructors have many options for obtaining feedback from their students about their learning experience.  These options include using the general course surveys, creating and administering their own custom surveys, or context specific student self-assessments.  These questionnaires can be completed in class as a hardcopy, online using the anonymous survey tool in HuskyCT, or developing their own survey using Qualtrics.

CETL consultants can help you to determine the most effective means for you to gather feedback and assist you with customizing your survey, administering your survey during class, generating a themed summary of results, or administering alternative forms of feedback. 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)

How do you collect mid-semester feedback?

Contextual considerations

  • Time: after the first major exam or unit break, but still early enough to adjust anything if necessary (usually 4-8 weeks into the semester).
  • Mixed Format: Open ended questions tend to be informative, but class size or whether a TA can help with the evaluation help might make targeted scale questions seem more feasible.
  • What are the top things you want to know about your students’ experience? What instructional strategies or course policies are and are not working well to support student learning?
  • All surveys are anonymous by default in Husky CT, you cannot determine which users selected a particular response. Check here for how create a survey
  • live discussion can be the most fitting way to hear from your students. Consider letting an outside colleague (another grad student that's not your TA, a fellow faculty member, or someone from the FIC) facilitate a feedback session with your students while you step out of the room. This informal focus group approach can provide additional insights beyond individual surveys.

Communicate with your students

  • Explain why you want to collect anonymous feedback and why they want to give it
  • Provide an overview of the process, including when it will take place, how you plan to use the feedback, and when you will share results with the class.
  • Guide giving constructive feedback; it is a life skill. What should you stop, start, or continue?
  • Consider a communication like:

Your SET responses are valuable to the instructor and other students, as it might influence instruction at UConn. Future students will rely on your feedback, just as students before you had the opportunity to impact what you are experiencing. Time in this class was set aside to collect your response. Thank you for your thoughtful feedback.

Administer the survey

  • Online: Message students when the survey becomes available and how long it is open.
  • In-class: Chose the start of class to avoid opinions being based on that day's session, give your students 5-8 minutes to complete the form, collect the surveys in a way that ensures anonymity.
  • Thank your students for participating in the process of improving the class.

Further references:

Rebecca L. Taylor , Kris Knorr , Michelle Ogrodnik & Peter Sinclair (2020) Seven principles for good practice in midterm student feedback, International Journal for Academic Development, 25:4, 350-362, DOI: 10.1080/1360144X.2020.1762086

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

You can choose a survey template below that best suits your particular course type. Please check with the Office of the Registrar for the most recent definitions of course modalities.

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. This is the survey format chosen most frequently by UConn instructors.

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.