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Structured Mid-Semester Feedback

Structured Mid-Semester Feedback 

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.

Implementing the SGID Process: 

  • an instructor and facilitator meet to discuss the SGID process and schedule the interview; the latter requires ~30 min of class time 
  • on the scheduled day, the instructor introduces the facilitator, explains the purpose of the interview, then leaves the classroom 
  • the facilitator divides students into small groups to discuss what aspects of the course either facilitates or hinders their learning and what specific suggestions they might offer for improvement 
  • group information is shared with the class and the facilitator then guides the students to reach a consensus on their responses 
  • the facilitator meets with the instructor at a later time to discuss the results and consider strategies for faculty-student dialogue and/or fine-tuning the instructional approach 
  • the instructor then responds to the student feedback during the next class period such that students understand the effects of their feedback and specific steps taken by the instructor to assist their learning. 

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. 

Scheduling a SGID 

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. 

Supporting References

Chen, Y., and Hoshower, L.B. (2003). Student evaluation of teaching effectiveness: An assessment of student perception and motivation. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 28(1), 71-88.

Coffman, S.J. (1998). Small group instructional evaluation across disciplines. College Teaching, 46(3), 106.

Diamond, M.R. (2004). The usefulness of structured mid-term feedback as a catalyst for change in higher education classes. Active Learning in Higher Education, 5(3), 217-231.

Herman, J.H., and M., Langridge. (2012). Using small group individual diagnosis to improve online instruction. In: To Improve the Academy: Resources for Faculty, Instructional, and Organizational Development, Groccia, J.E. and L. Cruz (eds), 31, 229-243. Jossey-Bass.

Redmond, J.C., and Swan, K. (1982). A process of midterm evaluation incorporating small group discussion of a course and its effect on student motivation. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education Educational Resources information Center.

Smuts, B. (2005). Using class interviews to evaluate teaching and courses in higher education. South African Journal of Higher Education, 19(5), 943-955.