While the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET’s) measure perceptions AFTER a course is over, collecting feedback between week 3 and course midterm has benefits. Doing so allows faculty to:
- address student questions or points of confusion regarding course design and major projects
- make meaningful changes or adjustments quickly and efficiently
- promote student engagement with the course content and instructors
- positively affect the outcome of summative evaluations of teaching effectiveness.
Four approaches – Early-term Course Feedback, Small Group Instructional Diagnosis, Quick Course Diagnosis, and Midterm Evaluations – can be used, and the one you choose depends on what you hope to accomplish. The Office of Teaching & Learning is available to facilitate.
Early Term Course Feedback
Early Term Feedback (ETF) is a formative assessment tool — in essence, a three-question survey — that allows you to engage students, address relevant questions or concerns, and make changes you believe valuable based on their feedback.
ETF can provide information about student perceptions of workload, their understanding of course objectives, their ability to engage with educational technology or resources, or their reception of new instructional approaches.
Early Term Feedback is usually done between weeks 3 and 5 of a semester. Instructors give students 10 minutes to answer up to three open-ended questions like the following:
- What features of this course contribute most to your learning?
- What changes would enhance your learning or clarify confusion?
- What can you do to improve your learning?
- What, if anything, would you change about the course?
- What is the best feature of the instructor’s presentation skills?
- Do you feel that the approach to (describe course change) is effective?
Typically, the instructor explains the purpose of ETF and allows students to jot down responses anonymously. The survey can also be administered through Carmen or Qualtrics. (CVM’s Office of Teaching & Learning would be happy to administer and summarize ETF results for you.)
Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID)
Like Early Term Feedback, Small Group Instructional Diagnosis is conducted for formative purposes in weeks 4, 5, or 6. SGID uses facilitated small group discussion among students to provide feedback to an instructor. Usually, someone besides the faculty member facilitates SGIDs.
Questions asked during the SGID process resemble those asked during ETF. They may include the following:
- What do you like best about the course and the faculty member’s teaching?
- What would you like the faculty member to change that may improve the course, his or her teaching, and your learning?
- What could you do to make the course better for you and the faculty member?
- How much have you learned in this course thus far?
Students respond to the selected questions, then groups report out. Consensus around themes is reached by clicker or hold of hands. For under 30 students, the whole SGID process would take 20 to 30 minutes. For over 60 students, the same process might take 50 minutes.
The facilitator communicates results to the faculty member as soon as possible in either a written summary or face-to-face consultation.
Quick Course Diagnosis
The Quick Course Diagnosis (QCD) is viewed by some as a more efficient and effective version of the SGID and administered during a similar timeframe.
With QCD, Office of Teaching & Learning staff meets with a faculty member to discuss course objectives and any changes to course design that may have recently taken place.
The facilitator then meets with students who are asked to rate from 1 to 5 satisfaction levels with the course and list a word or phrase to describe their experience so far. This data creates a histogram displaying the number of students, ratings and associated words or phrases.
Students are also presented with a list of course learning outcomes and on the reverse side of the index card, the students list the two SLOs best met and least fulfilled.
As a final activity, students form groups and identify course strengths and weaknesses using a round-robin approach. The groups rank the top three strengths and the top three weaknesses. Group data is collected and analyzed.
The process takes between 20 and 30 minutes, even in a large-enrollment course.
Midterm Evaluations are typically administered between weeks 4 and 8. Midterm evaluations tend to be more formally structured.
The Office of Teaching & Learning has a question bank to assist faculty in creating Midterm Evaluation that targets specific areas for which adjustments or changes can be made.
How to Use Results
Regardless of the process used, course team leaders and members analyze information and strategize changes. The results are valuable if there are patterns of responses. In almost all cases of open-ended responses, categories related to classroom environment/management, learning styles, student-to-student relationships, technology issues, etc., can be identified.
Off-the-wall comments should be thrown out and forgotten. Positive comments may not really tell an instructor much. Constructive or negative feedback should be sorted into “can change” and “cannot change” groups. It’s also important to consider if student perceptions require clarification or explanation, and to take note of course and instructor strengths.
Faculty should decide if there are two or three critical changes that might improve the course and focus on making those immediately. Other possible areas of improvement should be left for the next offering of the course.
Research on Early-Term Feedback indicates simply administering it improves end-of-course student evaluations, with additional positive effects from reporting out with no changes/adaptations, and reporting out with changes/adaptations.
- Stanford Teaching Commons: https://teachingcommons.stanford.edu.
- Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning: http://bokcenter.harvard.edu.
- Berkeley Center for Teaching & Learning: https://teaching.berkeley.edu.
- Ferris State University Faculty Center for Teaching & Learning: http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/academics/center/services/sgid/.