Advice and resources to help you collect mid-course feedback from your students.
Background & rationale
The rationale for this activity is to promote a sense of dialogue between staff and students from the earliest stages, by providing opportunities for staff to gather (and respond to) mid-course feedback from all students. Such opportunities already exist in many courses. In practice this can allow staff to explain why courses are structured in certain ways, or indeed why changes have evolved in response to previous cohorts’ input. This is also an ideal time to introduce/ remind students (and staff) about principles of constructive feedback currently used by EUSA for student representative training.
Resources to help you
Schools can choose the methodology they wish to use to gather the feedback. We have provided some examples (from paper-based to video) for colleagues to use to get started. ‘Low-tech’ paper-based solutions are already working well in some schools (see examples 1 and 2). Others are using electronic systems such as 'Top-Hat' for real time feedback, taking advantage of the free text input option.
Example 1: Mid-Course Feedback Example (Maths) – Paper based
The course organise (CO) arranges for informal feedback to be sought from the class on what is working well and what could be enhanced, in time for minor matters to be resolved for the current cohort. It is normally carried out in class to maximise response rates. Except for small classes, it is normally appropriate to have a separate feedback exercise for lectures and for workshops. Assuming that it is to be a single exercise, the timing is normally at an appropriate point between weeks 3 and 5. The School does not formally collect or record this feedback.
It is usually easiest to collect feedback on paper during a session (suggested template below), although online is appropriate provided it results in comparably good response rates. If groups of students are assigned to particular tutors, the groups’ responses should be identified or kept separate so that tutors receive feedback from their own tutees. As CO you can review the feedback to individual tutors and if there are particular commendations or criticisms, discuss them with that tutor. Care should be taken to preserve student anonymity. Forms are available, but other forms or blank pieces of paper or a card can be used if preferred.
This is also normally best done on paper during a session.
Professor Iain Gordon discusses mid-semester feedback in the School of Mathematics
Important considerations when taking and responding to feedback
Care should be taken to ensure that anonymity is not compromised, particularly for workshop feedback where groups are small and tutors may be nearby. Whatever mechanisms are used, it is important to tell the class what feedback has been received and to explain for the issues raised how you intend to address them, or, if you feel it is not right or possible to do so, explain your reasons. You should remind tutors to do the same. This can be done informally through discussion in the lecture or workshop.
Example 2: Mid-Course Feedback Example (Engineering) – Paper Based
The “start-stop-continue” sheets (template provided below) are used one per course in the middle of the course, about week 5, however some students have commented that earlier would be perhaps a better timescale.
The Engineering Teaching Organisation print out the questionnaires and prepare a bundle for the course lecturer to distribute and collect at a class - normally a lecture. As with Maths, the School does not formally record the responses from either students or staff.
The expectation is that the lecturer would give a summary, about one slide per topic (sample PowerPoint presentation below), shortly after the questionnaires have been completed. This explains, for example, what they can change for the current academic year, what they will consider for the following year, and explains what can’t be changed, and why. (See example slides under Example 4).
Example 3: Mid-Course Feedback Example (Social and Political Science) - Paper-based
The School of Social and Political Science are piloting collecting paper-based feedback. They have designed a postcard (see sample below) to hand out to all taught students (UG years 1 -4, and PGT).
Example 4: Mid-Course Feedback Example (Royal Dick Vet School) – video
The Vet School have used the ‘Top Hat’ tool to facilitate students giving live feedback which can be discuss dynamically in class. This video show Prof Susan Rhind discussing how she took 10 minutes to use Top Hat in her classroom to collect students’ views with a view to enhancing teaching practice and managing students’ expectations.
Example 5: Mid-Course feedback responses
In order to successfully manage students’ expectations staff should communicate with them the actions taken as a result of their feedback and also discuss with them why some suggestions might not be possible. These slides are an example of how this could be presented during a classroom discussion.
Do you have examples to share?
If you have any similar resources you would be willing to share or if you wish to discuss further please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out about University formal mechanisms for seeking student feedback