Faculty Blog: What do you ask on your early term survey?

The Provost advocates that you ask at least two questions of your students – what is working well, and what could be improved – at about this time in the semester to provide feedback for a “course correction.”  But many instructors add questions of their own.   Share your favorite questions for student feedback on the CTL Faculty Blog, and receive a small gift, or just view the blog to see what questions others like best!


4 comments on “Faculty Blog: What do you ask on your early term survey?”

  • Mary Durfee
    October 2, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    I think this recommendation works against women, especially younger ones, which I am not. If you ask this open ended question, I think women will be seen as weak and less competent (though if almost everyone does, I could well be wrong). Men are probably seen a nurturing, but I don’t know. I would be interested to know whether women do get ‘dinged’ for doing the 5 week “how are we doing?” in ways men are not.

    The approach I use to help students learn and to check my best guess on what will work is to keep close eye on how my class is going and correcting as I go along. Maybe I have a number of emails asking for clarification on an assignment–that I take to the whole class. Sometimes I see results of student work and revise the assignment for next time or drop it. If it looks really “off” from my expectations, then that is when a talk with the students is in order in my class. Sometimes they suggest something to do and I try to find a place for it. Bottom line: I don’t do the 5 week thing, but I do pay attention all the time. I have quite wonderful debriefs at the end of the course–which is very useful for making the learning experience better for the next time. Students give me high marks (on the old evaluation) on respect and openness to questions, so this works for me.

  • Maria Bergstrom
    October 2, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    I think the question about gender is a really interesting one, and it would be worth thinking more about how different approaches in the classroom might work differently for men or women, also perhaps older/younger faculty?

    I teach small classes (Composition) and have lots of student interaction, which I’m sure impacts my mid-term survey responses as well. In past years I have simply asked, “What is the best thing we’ve done so far” “What is the worst thing we’ve done so far” and “What suggestions do you have for me”

    I have always just done this on paper at the beginning of class, but this term am using the online Canvas quiz. I have to say, I think I prefer the in-class survey for getting full participation (at least from everyone who comes that day). I don’t yet have a sense for whether the comments I get are more substantive with the Canvas quiz.

    I have not found that the mid-term evaluation has hindered my classroom persona, but again, I teach a very small class (22 students) and have a lot of give and take with them from the start.

    • Mary Durfee
      October 2, 2015 at 10:39 pm

      Good to know your experience. I also would not put my questions on canvas–the in person discussions of pros and cons of something are good. In person also help students understand the value of an assignment and more about learning in general. I might, by the way, use the recommended technique if I were teaching a course for the first time or so.

      • Maria Bergstrom
        October 23, 2015 at 3:36 pm

        I didn’t think to include this earlier, but the other aspect of on-paper quick evaluations I do mid-term is that I usually also take time in class to read through the suggestions (anonymously) with the class and offer my take on them. They get real and timely feedback from me, they get to see me taking into account their suggestions, and it also offers that opportunity for back-and-forth that Mary is talking about, which is more valuable than the student response alone.

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