The Weekly Teaching Note

From the Cal Poly Pomona Faculty Center for Professional Development

What are They Thinking? Mid-Quarter Feedback

Posted by weeklyteachingnote on January 21, 2009

Do you wonder how your class is going? What might show up on the end-of-quarter evaluations? Asking students for feedback during the quarter, ideally before the mid-term, is very valuable. You can make some specific changes to benefit the current students. Some problems can be dealt with. Students appreciate being asked to give input, and learning what students like and consider valuable about the class can provide a morale boost for you.

Individual students tend to be shy about giving feedback, no matter how welcoming you are. It’s better to have an organized way of asking for student comments. One effective way of gathering feedback is to have someone come and interview the class in your absence. This works for both large and small classes. At your request, Faculty Center staff can interview your students and talk to you confidentially about the results. Email Victoria Bhavsar at to request an interview.

If you cannot have someone come into your class, you can still ask for student feedback. The easiest way is to ask students to take 10-15 minutes at the end of class to write down answers to three basic questions:

  • What is helping you learn the material in this class?
  • What makes learning hard in this class, and how could that problem be dealt with, by you or by the teacher?
  • What other suggestions do you have to improve your learning experience in this class?

When you present the questions to the students, explain that you want to make the class the best learning experience for them that you can. Tell them that you will take their ideas seriously although you may not be able to make all the changes they want. Ask them to focus their comments on learning: if they say they “like” or “dislike” something, they should follow up with explaining why their learning is affected.

Students will be honest only if they are assured that any criticisms they give will not hurt their grades or make you angry. It’s best to have someone else gather the papers and type up the comments for you so that recognizing their handwriting is not an issue.

It’s critical to go over the students’ feedback quickly and carefully so that you can talk to them about it the very next time you see them. If you do not talk to them, they will consider the activity a waste of time, which is even worse than if you had not asked for feedback at all. At the least, thank them for their ideas and assure them that you are taking time to consider carefully.

It’s also very helpful to talk with someone, such as a colleague or someone from the Faculty Center, about the feedback you receive.

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