Check In with Your Students to Improve Teaching & Learning
Gathering feedback from your students about their experience in your class is a valuable way to collect information about everything from what students are bringing as they enter your course to how they respond to your course design and teaching choices. By understanding how students are experiencing and learning in your course, you’re better positioned to make adjustments to course policies, the pace and design of assessments and assignments, and your overall approach to communication in support of student learning.
There are many ways to collect feedback from your students, and the method you choose depends on your objectives and the kind of information you want. We’ve included information about using surveys at the beginning of the quarter to find out about everything from your students’ motivations for taking the course to things they feel particularly excited or worried about. We strongly recommend collecting mid-term survey data so you can make any needed real time adjustments while your course is still meeting. We’ve also included resources to help you prepare for and make use of information from Student Experience of Teaching Surveys (SETS) both to improve future iterations of your course and to prepare for professional reviews.
Mid-Quarter Surveys to Gather Student Feedback
Collecting mid-quarter feedback is a good way to “check the pulse” of your class while there is still time to make adjustments.
Why should I collect mid-quarter feedback?
- gives the instructor(s) a better understanding of what is helping and hindering student learning. This is especially important when teaching in a new context, like remote instruction
- provides immediately actionable feedback
- models reflective practice and demonstrates that you value student feedback and your commitment to student learning and success
- builds trust
- can also be used to get students to reflect on where they might need to improve their approach to the course in order to succeed
- can help you avoid surprises in SETS at the end of the term
- can lead to higher ratings and response rates on end-of-term SETS if students have learned at mid-quarter that you will actually use their feedback to change something about your teaching
How do I collect mid-quarter feedback?
- Things to Consider
- A good time to collect feedback is early enough to make necessary adjustments, but after you and your students have enough experience in the class to provide substantive feedback.
- For large classes, stick to 3–4 questions so you can adequately process the feedback.
- If your class has Teaching Assistants, encourage them to collect mid-quarter feedback in coordination with when you are requesting feedback. Ideally, students should give feedback separately to the primary instructor or to the Teaching Assistant, rather than using a single form.
- Tailor the questions to answer the questions you have about what is working and what could be improved in your course.
- Make sure to ask at least one question that prompts students to reflect on what they themselves are doing to support their learning in the course.
- Create a feedback form
- Use the UCSC Mid-quarter Questionnaire Template for the remote class (see below for details). You can customize the form as needed.
- Create your own form using a platform that you’re comfortable with (in addition to Google forms, consider other tools that UCSC has access to, such as Canvas (quizzes) and Qualtrics.
- Keep the form anonymous to encourage more candid feedback.
- Keep it short (it should take about 5–7 minutes to complete).
- Discuss the purpose and process with your students
- Explain to students why you are engaging in the process.
- Provide an overview of the process, including when it will take place, how you plan to use the feedback, and when you will share the results with the class.
- Administer the survey
- Out of class: Message the students when the survey is available and provide a deadline for completing the survey.
- In class: Conduct the survey at the start of class to avoid an over-emphasis on evaluating that day’s class session.
- Be sure to thank the students for participating and remind them about when you will share the insights and actions with them.
- Analyze the Results
- Reflect on your teaching in light of the student feedback and identify realistic adjustments you can make.
- Summarize the feedback in a way that you can share with your students.
- Respond to feedback
- Share a synthesis of the feedback with the students and let them know how you plan to respond. Be ready to explain the rationale for your response to their feedback. This may be a good opportunity to clarify why you use certain teaching strategies to support their learning and their role in their own learning.
- Use this opportunity to highlight what is working.
- Talk with your students about adjustments they can make as learners in the class.
Templates for Mid-Quarter Feedback
To access the template:
- Go to the Google Forms homepage.
- Click on the template gallery location on the top right-hand side of the page.
- You will find multiple forms titled “mid-quarter feedback questionnaire”.
- Select the one you’d like and it will automatically populate to your Google Drive.
- If you have further questions about how to draft a mid-quarter questionnaire, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Utilizing Student Experience of Teaching Surveys (SETS)
The resources below can help you prepare for and make use of information from Student Experience of Teaching Surveys (SETS) both to improve future iterations of your course and to prepare for professional reviews.
Best Practices for Improving SETS Response Rates
Produced in collaboration with the Academic Senate Committee on Teaching, this list provides instructors with a few concrete suggestions on how to encourage students to fill out the SETS and provide feedback that is thoughtful and useful for instructors.
Talk to Students about SETS
- Explain to students that their comments on SETS are extremely valuable for you as you strive to improve your courses for future students. Providing specific examples of how you have modified your teaching based on feedback in SETS can be especially valuable.
- Let students know that the SETS are taken seriously as a way for student voices to be considered when faculty are reviewed for merit and promotion. It may surprise students to know that each and every SETS is read both at the department level and by the university-wide personnel committee that reviews each member of the faculty every 2–3 years.
- Reassure students that their responses are confidential and not seen by the instructor until after grades are submitted.
- Give students concrete guidance on how to give useful feedback to an instructor.
- Take class time to give students an opportunity to fill out SETS.
- Many faculty offer a small fraction of extra credit to the entire class if a threshold response rate (often 75–85%) is reached. This strategy is one of the most effective ways to promote a high return rate. (Note: Extra credit cannot be awarded to individual students — only to the entire class — due to the nature of student submissions being confidential.)
- Follow up with a personal email asking that students provide their thoughtful feedback on the SETS.
Make Feedback Routine
- Consider gathering mid-quarter feedback and discuss the results with students. Include changes you make based on the feedback as well as things you may not change and why. It inspires confidence that you will use the feedback to benefit other students.
Guide to Using Student Experience of Teaching Survey (SETS) Data
Produced in collaboration with the Academic Senate Committee on Teaching, this document provides instructors with guidance on how to use quantitative and qualitative Student Experience of Teaching (SET) data, which may be employed as evidence of teaching effectiveness (and growth as a teacher) during the personnel review process.
Preparing to Read Student Comments on Student Experience of Teaching Surveys (SETS)
Produced in collaboration with the Academic Senate Committee on Teaching, this white paper guides instructors in reading and utilizing Student Experience of Teaching (SET) surveys.
Guide for Students: Giving Useful Feedback to Your Instructors and TAs
This document provides students with guidance on how to utilize SETS and other feedback mechanisms as resources for reflecting on their own learning and for providing feedback that can be effectively used by instructors to improve student learning.