At Boston College, instructors have a number of choices for soliciting mid-semester feedback from their students:
- The Provost’s Office administers a standard mid-semester feedback form that instructors can opt-in to use
- The CTE is also available to consult with you as you develop mid-semester feedback questions or interpret your data
- Instructors can choose to develop questions, distribute the survey, and interpret feedback independently or in conversation with colleagues
This resource may be helpful to you no matter what avenue you pursue. It introduces the philosophy of seeking mid-semester feedback from your students, provides sample forms and questions, and outlines some questions you might want to have in mind as you interpret the data.
Whichever path you choose, it is worth noting that gathering mid-semester feedback is not synonymous with receiving an exhaustive to-do list from students. In fact, what can initially present as a smorgasbord of surface-level comments often, when interpreted, reveal underlying themes. The instructor may want to address the theme, but not in the exact way students recommend.
For instance, if students request “less reading,” it may be that the reading load is too high, but it might also be that students are struggling with the difficulty of the texts or find it difficult to identify the usefulness of the texts. It may be that providing reading questions to guide student engagement with the material or devoting more in-class time to discussing the texts is a more suitable response than cutting readings. The processes introduced below make it possible for you to solicit helpful feedback from students, but your own interpretation, learning goals, and classroom norms should also inform your eventual response.
What is Mid-Semester Feedback?
This is a chance to hear from your students about how the course is going. By receiving feedback from them about halfway through the semester, you have the opportunity to make immediate changes to the course that will benefit their learning for the rest of the semester.
If you choose to work with CTE staff to interpret feedback, no information related to the consultation will be shared with anyone aside from yourself. You choose what, if any, feedback data to share with CTE staff, and we delete any feedback records we have once the consultation has concluded.
Benefits of Gathering Mid-Semester Feedback
Gathering mid-semester feedback gives you the opportunity to:
- reflect on your teaching and your students’ learning in one particular course, as well as more broadly for any future courses you teach.
- better understand how students experience your class and what they think is helping them learn or could better help them learn
- practice inclusivity by listening to how individual students experience the course
- gain confidence in the aspects of the course that are going well and helping student learning
- open a dialogue with your students about the course and their learning in it
Gathering mid-semester feedback gives your students the opportunity to:
- reflect on their own learning in the course and practice metacognition
- take ownership of their learning
- enhance their rapport with you and engagement in the course because they feel their thoughts and suggestions are being heard and acted on
- better understand the changes you can and cannot make to the course
What BC Instructors say
“It was good to hear the individual and aggregate responses of things that are already working for students – some of them were actually techniques or ideas I’d considered dropping, but it was helpful to hear that students found them useful aids to learning.”
“The whole process was really helpful. That I could get helpful anonymous feedback from my students and that they could hear each other’s comments as well was extremely valuable. I also think participating made my students feel heard and made them feel like they had more control over their educational experience.”
“The aspect of the process most useful for my teaching was the post-survey interview, where I was able both to receive feedback and discuss strategies for addressing weaknesses.”
Diamond, M. R. (2004). The usefulness of structured mid-term feedback as a catalyst for change in higher education classes. Active Learning in Higher Education, 5(3), 217–231.
Payette, Patricia R. & Marie Kendall Brown (Jan. 2018). Gathering Mid-semester Feedback: Three Variations to Improve Instruction. Idea Paper #67.