Mid-quarter surveys are a highly flexible tool for gathering feedback from your students about what is and isn’t working in your course in real time. There are a number of reasons to collect mid-quarter feedback:
- Receive actionable feedback to improve your course
- Identify elements that are going well in your course
- Reduce the recency bias of end-of-quarter feedback
- Provide students with an opportunity to share their thoughts about the course
- Provide an opportunity to coach students on giving feedback, an essential leadership management skill
Below, we provide steps for collecting feedback, including modifiable templates that you can easily add to your course. We also offer tips and suggestions to address challenges that may arise and make the most of mid-quarter feedback.
Design Your Survey
Reflect on your goals for collecting student feedback. Are you looking for general feedback about what is going well and what could be improved in your course so far? Do you have specific challenges or activities that you’d like to get students’ input on? Use this reflection to guide your survey design.
Decide when and how often to distribute the survey.
- Mid-quarter feedback is often distributed once at the midpoint of your course. For a full quarter-length course this would be in weeks 4–6.
- Some instructors collect feedback more regularly throughout the quarter, such as weekly or after each unit. Lecturer in Management Russell Siegelman collects feedback on a weekly basis to reduce the recency bias of feedback surveys.
Decide how to administer the survey for the most open feedback and a high response rate. Some suggestions include:
- Keep the survey anonymous, if possible.
- For printed surveys, set aside 5–10 minutes of class time.
- For online surveys, consider giving participation credit. Note that giving participation credit may not allow for fully anonymous survey submissions.
Create the survey based on your goals for feedback. Select a survey template below or create your own.
Both the online and printable survey formats are designed to collect anonymous feedback and are available in short and long versions.
The short version has the following questions:
- What is going well in this course and contributes to your learning?
- What could use improvement? Please provide specific suggestions that you would make for change.
- Thus far, how effective do you think the course has been in achieving its learning goals?
- Please share any additional comments below.
The long version has all of the short version questions (above) and the following:
- How have you found the pace of the course?
- How has it been to learn the concepts of the course?
- How many hours have you spent per week on this course?
- How can we improve participation?
- What can you, as a student, do to make this course even more successful?
The VPSA website describes other survey templates in use at the university, which you are free to choose.
Suggestions for design:
- Keep the survey short.
- Include clear questions that are focused on the items that are most important to you. Feel free to use the questions that are in the Teaching and Learning Hub’s surveys as a template or a starting point.
If you have specific goals in collecting feedback, you may choose to include close-ended or highly targeted questions, such as asking students to:
- Rate cases and guest speakers
- Provide an explanation for their rating
- Offer suggestions for improving an element you’ve already identified is a problem or challenge (e.g., an exam review session that isn’t proving especially helpful)
- Provide feedback on adjustable course elements (e.g., the usefulness of feedback they’re receiving on assignments, their experience of the course climate)
Prepare the Survey
If you decide to use a Teaching and Learning Hub survey, follow the tips below for the version that you are using:
- Printable survey. Download and print the desired survey (full-page short version, half-page short version, long version).
- Self-service Canvas survey. Mid-quarter feedback surveys can also be added to your course directly via Canvas Commons, without submitting a request:
- Select ‘Commons’ on the red menu on the left side of your Canvas window (you will need to authorize if you have never used Commons before), and search for ‘GSB’.
- Select ‘Import/Download’ for either survey template (‘GSB Mid-Quarter Feedback Survey – Short Template’ or GSB Mid-Quarter Feedback Survey – Long Template’) to add it to your course. After you import the feedback survey, it will appear in the Quizzes section in your Canvas course.
- Update any instructions, edit any questions, add due dates, and publish the survey.
- You can then share it with your students (see Step 4).
- Online Canvas-based survey. Contact us to let us know which survey version (short or long) you would like to use and the timeframe for your survey. We will integrate the Canvas-based survey in your course so that you can share with your students (see Step 4).
Frame the Feedback Request for Your Students
Frame the survey with a short description and an explanation of its importance, either before administering the survey in class or as a Canvas post accompanying an online survey. You may include:
- Details about how and when the survey will be administered
- Why you value student feedback and how you will use it
- What type of feedback you are looking for
- How you plan to review and respond to feedback
- What impacts of the feedback students may expect, especially in anticipation of receiving suggestions for change that you won’t be able to implement
Here is how Lecturer in Management Jim Ellis suggests framing the feedback ask to solicit high quality and actionable feedback:
Ask students to focus on providing feedback about their learning, rather than providing feedback about personal opinions (e.g., which case was the most fun or which founder they liked the most). Ask students to explain why something isn’t valuable and how it could be improved, rather than simply saying that they don’t like something.
Connect feedback with students’ future professional roles. Provide workplace and course-based examples of helpful feedback, and discuss or have students brainstorm best practices for giving productive, actionable feedback. Matt Abrahams explains how he teaches the skill of providing feedback in his class, and how he draws on this for mid-quarter student feedback:
We teach feedback as a skill. When students review each others’ participation in our class, we ask them to look for strengths (things that are going well that we should continue to hone) and things to strengthen (things that would make the experience better). We then ask students to do this for us as teachers. We frame this as a process that’s not about venting, catharsis, or being mean—it’s about helping the person you’re providing feedback to. Over the quarter, we slowly build the depth of the feedback, and the rubrics people use. Feedback is critical as a skill in communication, but it also helps us improve as instructors.
In the [describe timeframe], I’ll ask you to complete [describe format of feedback] feedback survey for this course. I’m looking especially for feedback that focuses on [describe type of feedback]. Your feedback is very valuable because [mention motivation for collecting feedback]. I’m asking for feedback now as well as at the end of the quarter in order to [rationale for collecting feedback in this timeframe]. [Optional: Describe how you will / won’t use feedback].Here is an example announcement:
In class on Friday, I’ll ask you to complete a mid-quarter feedback survey for this course. I’m looking especially for feedback that focuses on assignments and how they contribute to your learning. Your feedback is very valuable because it helps me continue to improve the course and understand what it’s like to be a student in my own course. I’m asking for feedback now as well as at the end of the quarter in order to hear your feedback about the first part of the course while it’s fresh. I may also be able to incorporate some of your suggestions for the second half of the quarter, or if not, I’ll aim to clarify relevant elements of the course or at least share my thoughts on your ideas. Knowing what’s working well helps me understand what I might lean into more, if possible.
Review and Respond in a Timely Fashion
Respond to feedback in the next one or two class sessions. Your response may be brief, devoting perhaps five or ten minutes of class time. Here are some suggestions for responding to feedback:
- Focus on patterns of student feedback and plan to address only the most common themes. Explain to students that this is how you’ll prioritize their feedback.
- Leave aside comments that are not constructive, such as one-off comments not relevant to student learning or both positive and negative comments that are not specific.
- Share aggregate student feedback with the class. This can help emphasize the spread of opinions or responses to a question.
- Clarify points of confusion that arose in the feedback or explain the value of course elements that students suggested to change.
- Acknowledge feedback that supports existing goals of the course or your instructional practice (e.g., if students offer feedback such as “call on a wider variety of people,” re-iterate that this is already your goal and ask students to support you in this).
- Get help from a consultant at the Teaching and Learning Hub for assistance with analyzing your feedback or formulating responses to student feedback.
Read how Jim Ellis responds to mid-quarter feedback:
We give a “feedback on feedback” presentation (SUNet Authentication required), which includes a rating of cases that is used over the longer term to craft the case line up. We tell students that we update lower-rated cases over time, coach guests, and change study questions. In our presentation, we don’t cover all feedback points, just the top five to seven that we heard most often.
We also address students’ suggestions. I create categories of comments and tally comments that are made in each category, and then we consider those in three groups:
1. We hear you and we’ll attempt to adjust this quarter (e.g., calling on different folks).
2. We hear you and this is going to take time to adjust — so thank you for your comments that will help future classes in the same way prior students contributed to current course design (e.g., more B2B cases, more international, more failures, greater diversity of protagonists).
3. We hear you but we are not taking the advice (e.g., no cold calls, allow electronics in class, make attendance optional, have guests talk instead of doing case discussions) — and we explain why we won’t be able to make a change.
Thank you very much for your feedback. I was able to consider it carefully and it will be invaluable as I make plans for the first part of this course next year. I’d like to share with you [how many] patterns that I noticed from the feedback and briefly explain my response to each.
Split student opinion:
The first pattern is a split opinion—some students said [summary of group 1 comments], while other students said [summary of group 2 comments]. We’ll continue to do [class activity] because many students find it helpful, [insert mention of a future adjustment, if possible:] but in the future we’ll [make a small change or establish a limit; e.g., capping the number of required assignment questions].
Majority of students agree and you can make a small change now and consider a larger change moving forward:
The second pattern is that many students, [insert number or percentage of respondents], asked for [summary of student comments]. [If you have a clarifying statement about the assignment/activity in question, insert here]. But I’ll be considering your suggestion carefully for the next iteration of the course. For now, I’ll [description of small change here; e.g., holding a special office hour for students who still have questions about an assignment].
Majority of students request a change that you can’t make:
The third pattern is that many folks feel [summary of student comments]. I can’t change this–[explain why; e.g., multiple course sections are designed to align, the course serves as a prerequisite for X]…
- And you have an idea of how to support students without making a change:
…But several students mentioned that [describe supporting action; e.g., providing a preview of next week’s key topics] was/could be helpful, so I’ll continue doing that each week.
- And you’re open to suggestions from students about how to support them:
…But I would welcome hearing ideas about how else I might support you through [activity or element students commented on]. For example, is there anything that other courses have done that has helped you with [this issue]?
Submit your questions or a request for assistance with interpreting your results by completing our Contact Us form.
Other helpful resources include:
- Recommendations for Collecting and Responding to Feedback, Stanford’s Vice Provost for Student Affairs
- Midterm Feedback, Center for Teaching and Learning, Lewis and Clark State College