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Student feedback can help you improve your course. But you need specific feedback to make needed changes. In this episode, Maria offers a number of ideas about when and what kind of feedback to collect.
Hello. This is Dr. Maria Yon from the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Welcome to Teaching and Learning Matters. Today’s topic is how to get feedback from students during the course of the semester.
For most colleges and universities, the most familiar form of feedback from students is end-of-course teaching evaluations. They are often a combination of ratings and written comments. Their purpose is to provide data for personnel evaluation and for improving teaching.
When it comes to using them for improving teaching there are two problems. The first problem is that they come too late to make any changes during the semester. The second problem is that they don’t provide enough specific feedback to help make needed changes.
These problems can be easily remedied. Get feedback early from students and get the kind of feedback you need. Some instructors collect feedback as early as a month into the semester. Others wait until mid-term. The important thing is that you have time to make adjustments.
Share the feedback and discuss differences of opinion that exist within the class. Explain changes that will be made and a rationale for changes that cannot be made. Another idea is to collect feedback soon after a project or learning activity has been completed. Students should be able to give better and more specific feedback while it is still fresh rather than waiting until the end of the semester.
Feedback can be collected during the semester in various ways. Some instructors use the standard required form. They discuss with students the results of their feedback and have an open discussion to allow students to expand on their evaluation.
It is a good exercise for students to see how others think about how the class is going. Using the required form helps the faculty member compare the results from earlier in the semester to the end of the semester.
Some instructors give a set of questions instead of the rating form. Giving students more time than is often given at the end of the semester allows student to give more thoughtful and useful responses. Questions such as the following are examples:
What aspects of the course have helped you learn so far?
What suggestions do you have for improvement?
What can I do to facilitate your learning?
What do you need to do to improve your learning in this course?
The important thing to remember when devising your questions is to ask a question that clearly puts some of the responsibility of learning on them. Teaching students to self-reflect is an important goal.
One important thing to remember: Don’t ask for early feedback unless you are willing to respond to it and make adjustments, even if they are minor ones.
I hope you’ll try out these ideas to help you get early feedback about how the course is going. Tune in again for Teaching and Learning Matters.
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