5 Reasons You Need to Gather Feedback During the Semester (and How to Do It)

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Feedback from students help to inform your teaching practice.

At the end of every semester students are given the opportunity to provide feedback on their course experience; however, it would be beneficial for you to gather ongoing formative feedback during the semester. Gathering formative feedback:

  1. Gives you an idea of students’ perceptions on the effectiveness of your learning activities
  2. Demonstrates that you are responsive to your students’ concerns in a timely manner, thus building a positive feedback experience for students
  3. Allows you an opportunity to make changes during the course at a time when those changes will impact the current students’ learning in your class
  4. Allows you to gather targeted feedback on specific teaching strategies that you may be trying for the first time
  5. Indicates the direction of your final formal course evaluations

Inform your students why you are seeking their feedback and what you plan to do with their feedback. Tell them they will have an opportunity to provide further feedback at the end of the course on the course evaluations, too.

Ideas for Gathering Feedback

Start, Stop, Continue

The start, stop, continue method of gathering feedback allows students an opportunity to provide feedback about what they would like you start doing in the class, what they’d like you to stop doing, and what they’d like you to continue doing.

You can gather this feedback on paper, using technology (like Google Forms or Microsoft Forms), or during an open discussion. Keep in mind, students will be more willing to provide constructive feedback anonymously than in front of their peers, but discussion with their peers also has value.

Online Survey

If you are looking to gather feedback, especially specific feedback about a particular assignment, teaching practice or an in-class activity, an online survey is a great way to gather that information. Google Forms or Microsoft Forms allows you to quickly create surveys that you can link to from you Moodle shell or send out in an email.

Focus Group

If you are seeking specific feedback from your students, you may conduct focus groups with the students. I was asked by a colleague to conduct a focus group in their large theory class to gather feedback about the structure of the course and the first series of assignments. The students shared openly and this feedback allowed the faculty member to revamp the structure of lessons and create more engaging assignments.

Minute Paper

Provide students with a few open-ended prompts that they think about for one minute. Have them write their feedback about the course on paper (or on the computer) for one minute. They may include ‘muddy points’, favorite lessons and why, and feedback on any assignments that have already been completed in the course.

Closing the Gap

Thank you students for taking the time to provide feedback that helps you to create a better learning experience for them. Ensure that you discuss the results of formative feedback with your students in a subsequent class so the students know that they’ve been heard and that their feedback was valuable. Give them an idea of how you are going to use their feedback to inform your teaching practice.

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