Student perceptions of faculty teaching are often gathered by means of structured interviews while classes are in session. This allows faculty to make instructional adjustments that can increase student motivation and lead to improved end-of-term teaching evaluations. Faculty response to structured feedback has also been linked to improved student acceptance of instructional changes, including non-traditional methods to support active learning.
The Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID) process is a particularly effective means of collecting structured feedback from students. Its value derives from the collection of student comments on a course's strengths and weaknesses that is both candid and confidential. The process is enabled by a facilitator who conducts in-class interviews and then responds to the instructor with a description of the issues, concerns, and ideas raised by the students. This summary is presented to the instructor in typing to ensure student anonymity. No records of the SGID are retained by the facilitator nor does the facilitator discuss the results with anyone other than the instructor. Facilitation is typically provided through a campus teaching and learning center or by a trained staff person working outside of the instructors department.
Faculty can also collect mid-term feedback anonymously from students using in-class or online surveys. Both have the potential benefit of reducing the time allocated to compiling responses. The absence of facilitated dialogue, however, limits opportunities for students to compare views and for faculty to identify specific issues that underlie the collective sentiment of their students, as well as the emotional register of these concerns. Similarly, faculty do not derive the full benefit of constructive suggestions offered by their students.
Faculty use of SGID does not imply there are problems in classroom instruction or teaching effectiveness. In fact, this process is often adopted by faculty who already receive favorable end-of-term evaluations but wish to promote two-way communication in the classroom, generate conversation on course goals and learning outcomes, and/or evaluate new instructional approaches.
To learn more about the SGID process and/or schedule one for any of your courses, please contact Sean Connin at sconnin [at] trinity [dot] edu or Emily Gravett at egravett [at] trinity [dot] edu. A date can be scheduled at any time. Faculty who have participated in SGID and would like to facilitate for a colleague(s) can find support and training through the Collaborative.
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