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Gathering early-semester or mid-semester student feedback allows instructors to gauge what is working well in the course and determine what adjustments might need to be made.  There are several reasons for incorporating early-semester feedback into your course design and plan:

  •  The information can be used to make changes during the current course.
  • Students feel empowered to help design their own educational process.
  •  It allows an assessment of specific behaviors rather than a global “quality of teaching” rating.
  • Instructors can ask for the information most pertinent to them-even soliciting criticism-without fearing any adverse consequences from the administration.
  • The evaluations go directly to the instructor, not the administration, precluding comparisons across instructors (Keutzer, 1993)

Once the early-semester or mid-semester evaluations are distributed and the responses are collected, it’s important to have a plan for evaluating the responses. When analyzing the feedback from student evaluations, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Throw out the off-the-wall comments that do not provide you with useful information and forget about them.
  • Throw out the positive comments that don’t tell you anything specific.
  • Divide the negative comments into two groups: those you can change and those that you cannot change.
  • Work on perceptions and learn to be explicit.
  • Prepare students for doing course evaluations throughout the semester.
  • Savor the comments that are meant to be negative, but let you know you are doing your job (Buskist and Hogan, 2010).

For more information on creating an early-semester evaluation or to see examples of early-semester evaluations, please contact the Kaneb Center For Teaching and Learning at kaneb@nd.edu.

References

1. Connie Buskist and Jan Hogan, (2010). She Needs a Haircut and a New Pair of Shoes: Handling Those Pesky Course Evaluations. Journal of Effective Teaching 10 (1), 51-56.

2.   Carolin Keutzer, (1993). Midterm Evaluation of Teaching Provides Helpful Feedback to Instructors. Teaching of Psychology 20 (4), 238-240.

 

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