When we meet with instructors who have received critical feedback in their final course evaluations, it often becomes clear that they could have resolved many of their students' concerns by making a small adjustment in some aspect of the course—if only they had known more, sooner, about their students' experience of the course. As such, we strongly encourage all instructors to solicit early feedback from their students, and are happy to meet with instructors either to design an appropriate feedback mechanism, or to interpret the results which they receive. Early feedback results can also be helpful in conjunction with a classroom observation / video viewing to give an instructor a fuller picture of what is a happening in the classroom, similar to triangulating data in research.
How Should I Collect Feedback?
While we often think of student feedback in terms of high-stakes, end-of-term evaluations like the Q Guide, in fact there are numerous ways in which instructors can receive frequent, early, and low-stakes feedback on how their students are learning. These range from "minute papers" jotted down at the start or end of class to more formal midterm feedback surveys distributed in-class or online, like those available through Blue. We discuss a variety of these techniques in our Online Resource pages on early or midterm feedback (which features six downloadable, ready-to-use forms) and ongoing feedback.
How Should I Interpret My Feedback?
After you solicit feedback you must then try to make sense of it, and develop a plan to respond to it that is appropriate for your course. It may be challenging when you receive conflicting feedback; you will need to consider the feedback in light of your own perceptions of the course, and you may decide to request a class observation in conjunction with the feedback in order to get an impartial perspective. Bok Center staff are happy to sit down with you to process your feedback and help you separate the meaningful patterns from the noise.
How Can I Put My Students' Feedback into a Wider Perspective?
It may also help to have an extra set of eyes on what's happening in your classroom. While student feedback can tell you a lot about how students are experiencing your teaching, inviting a member of the Bok Center's senior staff to observe your class can help give you a fuller picture of your course.