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Student Feedback to Support Instruction
Early- and Mid-term Feedback Surveys and Small Group Instructional Diagnosis

Student Feedback to Support Instruction

The Role of Student Feedback

Student feedback on instruction plays a significant role in development of teaching excellence. Student feedback is a widely used method to evaluate and improve teaching effectiveness because it helps instructors gauge what practices facilitate learning and what adjustments to instructional strategies improve student learning.

Student feedback is collected in a variety of ways including, among others:

  • Through student performance on assignments and assessments
  • Through formal and informal surveys of student perceptions
  • Though Student Evaluation of Teaching (SETs)/Student Evaluation of Instruction (SEIs)
  • Through observation of classrooms or other learning contexts
  • Through short written responses at the end of a class session or learning activity

The Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment (CTLA) supports the formative use of student feedback and provides confidential, one-on-one consultation to assist instructors in transforming feedback into valuable instructional refinements.

A pencil lays on a paper survey.

Early- and Mid-term Feedback Survey

In particular, the CTLA provides instructors access to an early-term feedback survey that can be administered typically during weeks 3-5 of a semester-long course or during the first third of summer courses (or other courses offered on an alternate schedule). The survey can be administered through the University's learning management system, via Qualtrics or in paper form. Instructors may also choose to administer this survey midterm.

Small Group Instructional Diagnosis

There are many reasons to participate in a Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID), and the benefits are related to the trained facilitation and pre-session and follow-up consultation. CTLA-trained facilitators are available to conduct SGIDs.

What Is a SGID?

A SGID is a structured session during which groups of students are asked to identify features of the course and methods of instruction that contribute to their learning or that could be changed to support their learning.

Who Needs a SGID and How Does It Work?

Any instructor interested in teaching excellence can benefit from a SGID. It is especially helpful when instructors want to understand student opinions about the course as a whole or specific classroom issues. It also helps instructors to identify specific teaching problems when they sense something is not “working well” but can’t identify the cause or when they notice students continue to struggle in a particular area or with specific concepts or tasks.

SGID steps include:

  1. Initial meeting to define goals: Course instructors begin by meeting with a CTLA facilitator to discuss the course and goals for the feedback session.
  2. SGID facilitator classroom “interview” with students: During the classroom "interview", the SGID facilitator introduces learners to the goals of the session and places them in small groups. Student groups are asked open-ended questions for which they must come to a consensus, then the groups come together to provide constructive feedback. (This part of the process takes 25-35 minutes of class time.)
  3. Follow-up meeting: Course instructors meet with a CTLA facilitator to review feedback and discuss adaptations to or refinements of the course or its instruction or other methods of responding.
  4. The SGID concludes with an in-class debriefing of students.

Benefits of Surveys and SGIDs

Surveys and SGIDs provide benefits to instructors and students and ultimately promote teaching excellence. Some benefits include:

  • The ability to obtain systematic feedback from students early in the semester
  • The ability to identify changes that might improve student learning and satisfaction early enough for change implementation
  • The ability to indicate to students the importance of their experience and their learning
  • Students feeling their voices have been heard
  • In the case of SGIDs, the representation of group attitudes about the course and instruction as opposed to individual attitudes
  • In the case of SGIDs, consensus building among a group that may have divergent viewpoints — some students may find that others interpret contexts much differently than they do

To request access to the CTLA's early- or mid-term survey or to request a SGID, contact the CTLA.