Mid-semester Student Feedback
While end-of-term evaluations are key for institutional accountability, mid-semester feedback allows instructors to improve their courses midstream, and make teaching adjustments specific to the particular needs and desires of current students. In addition, mid-semester feedback generally produces better quality feedback than end-of-term evaluations, since students have a shared stake in the results and instructors can seek clarification on confusing responses.
Instructors can consider customizing mid-semester feedback exercises that best fit their needs:
- Students assessing the instructor’s teaching
- Invite students to complete the an anonymous online survey that can only be viewed by the instructor.
- Set aside time in class for small group feedback discussions.
- Students assessing their own learning
- Discuss with a peer or reflect on self-solicited feedback based on clear criteria provided by the instructor
- Complete ungraded online quizzes
- Engage with self-reflective knowledge surveys or journaling assignments
- Student-instructor co-designed assessments
- Co-create questions, co-design the format, and co-analyze evaluation results
- Use this approach as a creative and more radical way to empower student voices and actively engage students as respondents, researchers, and learners
- Choose the right questions - Instructors should consider what are the most important two to three aspects of
class they really want to know more about. Four core questions exist as a default
in the Midsemester Feedback tool on Canvas:
- What is helping your learning in this class?
- What is hindering your learning in this class?
- What could the instructor change to improve your learning experience in this class?
- What could you do differently to improve your learning experience in this class?
- Choose the appropriate methods - Instructors should consider what form of mid-semester feedback is best for their
course. Various approaches will offer different data for instructors’ pedagogical
goals. For instance, anonymous online surveys take less time but may be less thorough
or reliable than in-class discussions or one-on-one meetings with the instructor,
but in-class and one-on-one meetings may inhibit students’ freedom to give instructors
- Choose the best time - Instructors should try to schedule mid-semester feedback before the first significant
graded midterm assignment; this gives students a chance to specify areas and ways
in which they feel underprepared before they are formally assessed.
- Encourage students to give feedback - Clearly offer the opportunity for mid-semester feedback to students via Canvas,
and if time, set aside class time for them to complete the feedback to ensure a representative
sample of students from each course respond.
- Be aware of bias in student feedback - The literature suggests that student evaluations may be biased against women and
minorities and thus not always valid measures of instruction (Basow, 1995; Watchel,
1998; Huston, 2005; Reid, L. (2010; Basow, S.A. & Martin, J.L. 2012). With this in
mind, instructors may consider student evaluations as one data source in their instruction,
take note of any prevailing themes, and decide how to respond. They can seek out other
ways to assess their practices to accompany student evaluation data before taking
steps to modify instruction. One option is to include external observation and anonymous
discussion with students for more real-time, and often more honest, feedback.
- Follow up with students regarding their feedback - Instructors should keep in mind that asking for feedback without following up can hurt class, since it suggests to students that their opinions might not matter. Instead, instructors can clarify any confusions or misunderstandings with students about their feedback, explain their intended plans for utilizing the feedback, and thank students for their honesty, inviting them to continue working with the instructor to improve the course.
Mid-semester feedback may help both instructors and students as it leads to course adjustments that benefit both. Other times, instructors may take in the feedback, acknowledge it, yet explain why a certain practice or workload will continue because it is essential to the course learning outcomes.
Theall M and Franklin JL. (2010). Assessing Teaching Practices and Effectiveness for Formative Purposes. A Guide to Faculty Development Second Edition. Jossey Bass.
Cook-Sather A. (2009). From Traditional Accountability to Shared Responsibility: The Benefits and Challenges of Student Consultants Gathering Midcourse Feedback in College Classrooms. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 34: 231-24.
Basow, S. A., & Martin, J. L. (2012). Bias in student evaluations. In M. E. Kite (Ed.), Effective evaluation of teaching: A guide for faculty and administrators (pp. 40–49). Society for the Teaching of Psychology.
Basow, S. A. (1995). Student evaluations of college professors: When gender matters. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87(4), 656–665. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-06188.8.131.526
Huston, T. (2005). Report: Empirical Research on the Impact of Race and Gender in the Evaluation of Teaching. Retrieved 3/10/17 from Seattle University, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning website.
Reid, L. D. (2010). The role of perceived race and gender in the evaluation of college teaching on RateMyProfessors.Com. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 3(3), 137–152. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0019865
Wachtel, H. K. (1998). Student Evaluation of College Teaching Effectiveness: a brief review, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 23:2, 191-212, DOI: 10.1080/0260293980230207
Ye, Joey. “YCC proposes midterm evaluations for new professors.” Yale Daily News. 26 January 2015.