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Taking the Pulse of the Class: Inviting Students’ Midterm Feedback

Week Five marks the halfway point in a course, and it is an opportune time to take the pulse of the class by hearing from students about how the class is going. Taking time to get student feedback now–rather than waiting until the end of the term–allows you to make changes and improvements that may significantly enhance student learning and contribute to a more rewarding experience as a teacher. Even if you don’t make any significant changes, it provides you with an opportunity to discuss with students the how the why of the teaching and learning process in your course. Moreover, as some of the models featured below indicate quite explicitly, it is an opportunity for students to pause and reflect on their own learning in preparation for the final weeks of the term.

Midterm feedback can be collected during weeks 4, 5, or 6 of the term, although some of the models below can be used more than once at any point during the term.  You can collect feedback directly in class or online using the Canvas survey feature or a survey tool like Qualtrics.

Whichever model you choose, it is most helpful to share results of the feedback with students in class. This allows you to identify the things you plan to change, to identify which things you won’t change and why, and also to highlight areas where students disagree, so that they can learn about the range of responses and diverse perspectives about learning in the class.

MODELS

I: Keep/Quit/Start

What should we keep doing in the class?

What should we quit doing in the class?

What should we start doing in the class?

*You can also ask students to identify what they, as individuals, should keep/quit/start doing.

II: PLUS/ DELTA

On a sheet of paper divided into quadrants, have students complete the following questions:

PLUS DELTA
What is helping me to learn in this class? What changes are needed in this course to improve learning?
What am I doing to improve my learning in the course? What do I need to do improve my learning in this course?

Source: Iowa State University Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

III: Positives and Wishes

Have students indicate all the positives about a course on one side of a paper, and then indicate all the suggestions for improvement on the other side.

IV: Lesson Field Notes

This compelling model, developed by Shane Hall, TEP’s graduate student teacher-scholar, helps students build the metacognitive capacity to analyze choices they themselves, their peers, and the instructor make that influence their learning. Read the “field notes” assignment here.

V: Survey

You can use a paper-based survey or online survey via Canvas or Qualtrics to ask a range of questions, which could be open-ended written responses or a ranking using some kind of scale (e.g. from “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree” or from “Frequently” to “Never,” etc.). Here are just a few examples of questions you could ask:

  • How is class going overall?
  • What is working for you and what could be improved?
  • How are class presentations and lectures? Are they easy or difficult to follow or understand? Are the presentation slides helpful?
  • Do you feel the group work we are doing in class is helpful? Do you have suggestions for improvement?
  • Are the readings easy or difficult? Do you feel the readings prepare you for class discussion?
  • Do you feel the weekly assignments help prepare you for class? -or- helped prepare you for the midterm?
  • Do you have any additional thoughts about the course you wish to share?
  • What steps could you take to improve your own learning in this course?

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