Documentation:Mid-course Feedback on Teaching

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What is Mid-Course Feedback?

Mid-Course Feedback (MCF) involves collecting feedback from students near the middle of a course in order to give the instructor an opportunity to make adjustments and improvements.  

MCF is a term that refers to a range of techniques for collecting student feedback. In this resource, we focus on the feedback that is collected, anonymously from students, based on instructor-designed questions to which the students respond during class. For alternative ways to implement MCF, see the Resources section below.

Why Do Mid-Course Feedback?

Information collected through MCF allows you, the instructor, to make adjustments to your  course in order to enhance the learning experience of students who are currently enrolled in your course.

You can also use MCF to engage your students as co-creators of a course, to invite them to contribute to its success, and to help students understand the rationale behind various pedagogical practices you employ.

Benefits for instructors may include*:

  • Stronger rapport with your students when they recognize you  care about their learning
  • Valuable feedback from students while there is still time to make changes that can directly benefit/impact their learning and experiences
  • Increased engagement from students because student motivation may be higher
  • An opportunity to reflect on your teaching
  • Research suggests that students who participate in MCF are likely to take more standardized end of term evaluations more seriously.

Benefits for students may include*:

  • Having a voice in their course and feeling valued and respected by you
  • Contribute to changes that enhance their experience of learning in the course
  • Recognition that they have input into the course and there is some flexibility in their learning experience
  • An opportunity to reflect on their learning
  • Practice giving constructive feedback

*Sources:

Cook‐Sather, A. (2009). From traditional accountability to shared responsibility: The benefits and challenges of student consultants gathering midcourse feedback in college classrooms. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 34(2), 231-241.

Harris, G. L. A., & Stevens, D. D. (2013). The value of midterm student feedback in cross-disciplinary graduate programs. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 19(3), 537-558.

Veeck, A., O’Reilly, K., MacMillan, A., & Yu, H. (2016). The use of collaborative midterm student evaluations to provide actionable results. Journal of Marketing Education, 38(3), 157-169.

How to Implement Mid-Course Feedback

Determine your goals and limit your questions

Before conducting MCF, take some time to reflect on what specific goals you have for this process.

MCF can help you collect information about various aspects of the course, such as:

  • Student expectations and outcomes
  • Students’ perceptions of learning activities
  • Impact of your teaching activities
  • Instructor expectations and objectives.

Though you could potentially have questions about many different aspects of the course and your teaching, we recommend that you limit your questions to three to four questions which focus on areas of the course where you are still able make changes.  

Decide what questions to ask and formulate good questions

These resources provide concrete suggestions for selecting and/or writing good questions:

  • Creating good questions for mid-course evaluations (overview)  (University of Toronto Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation)  
  • Sample questions for mid-course evaluations (University of Toronto Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation)
  • Sample questions (short) (McGill University)

Explanations, timing, and guidance

It is helpful to explain the MCF process (and its goals) to your students as it may be unfamiliar to them and/or they may have had a poor experience of it in the past. Take the time to differentiate between MCF and the end-of-course student evaluations of teaching.

As mentioned elsewhere, you want to conduct the MCF part-way through the term; students should have had a chance to experience your teaching and you should time the process so you have time to make modifications based on student feedback.

You may also wish to provide some guidance to students on how to provide you with good feedback as this may not be a skill they have practice with. See here for an excellent resource on how to help students provide good responses and how to create conditions for receiving good feedback.

MCF can be conducted anonymously in a number of ways that include via an online survey, through a classroom response system (i.e., “Clickers”), or via the One-Minute Paper (in which you pose a question and give students have 1 minute to respond in writing). If you opt for an online survey, you may choose to dedicate some class time to the evaluations or, alternatively, you may ask students to respond to the questions outside of class time.

Reflecting and Acting on the Feedback

Step 1: Reflect on your own

Recall your goals for conducting MCF. With these in mind (and with an openness to any other information that might surface), review the students’ comments, organize these, and reflect. This form provides a useful process for guiding you through this.

Step 2: Reflect with a colleague.

We encourage you to discuss the students’ feedback with a trusted colleague or someone from the teaching and learning centre.

Step 3: Select your actionable changes and plan your response

Make final decisions about how you will respond to students’ feedback (i.e., What changes are you committed to making? What suggestions are you choosing not to respond to during this course and why?) and what you wish to communicate to your students.

Step 4: Discuss with the students

  • Make time to respond to the student feedback within one week of gathering the feedback.
  • Thank students for their comments and let them know you value their feedback.
  • If you will not be making changes to the course, acknowledge the feedback and briefly explain the reasons for your choice.
  • Use the opportunity to highlight what is working well and, as appropriate, to clarify your rationale for using certain teaching strategies.
  • Encourage students to provide follow-up feedback verbally or otherwise and on the end-of-course evaluation .

Resources (including variations on MCF)

Benefits, Impact and Process of Early Course Evaluations (Center for Teaching Excellence, Duquesne University)

Gathering Formative Feedback with Mid-Course Evaluations (Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation, University of Toronto)

Mid-Semester Feedback on Teaching (Faculty Innovation Center, The University of Texas at Austin)

Small Group Instructional Feedback (Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology, University of British Columbia)