Collecting student feedback offers faculty insight into how their students are engaging with the content, understanding material and experiencing learning in their course. This formative feedback directly from students helps faculty gather information about the student experience, particularly what is working as well as identifying potential challenges. Gathering informal student feedback provides faculty the opportunity to reflect on their courses and adjust their instructional strategies and approaches in the spirit of continuous improvement.
Student feedback can take many different forms and be conducted at various points throughout the semester. This may include an informal one-minute written response after a module, a stop-start-continue mid-semester touchpoint, as well as the Student Feedback Questionnaire (SFQ) at the end of the semester (see Payette & Brown, 2018 for further information). The benefits of gathering information during the semester include allowing faculty to adjust their instructional approaches, identify challenges or barriers to learning, increase student engagement and foster a collaborative relationship between faculty and students (Gonzalez, 2014; see also Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation, University of Toronto for further information).
Explicitly communicating the value and importance of their feedback will encourage students to participate, which will, in turn, provide faculty with rich input that they can use for reflection and inform adjustments in their practices. There are, for example, a number of best practices that encourage students to participate in Student Feedback Questions (SFQ), such as those listed on the Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching site. These include:
- Designate time in class for students to complete evaluations
- Communicate that you value their constructive feedback and use their feedback to make adjustments in your teaching
- Let students know that you are interested in positive and negative feedback on the course
- Describe the importance of receiving specific and constructive feedback
- Remind students that the SFQs are completely anonymous and that you are given the aggregate results after final grades have been submitted
Integrating student feedback opportunities into a course promotes and contributes to faculty reflection, supports the co-construction of knowledge between faculty and students, and scaffolds the learning experience, ultimately resulting in exemplary teaching and learning practices.
Gonzalez, J. (2014). 5 reasons why you should seek your own student feedback.
Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation. University of Toronto.
Center for Teaching. Vanderbilt University.
Payette, P.R. & Brown, M.K. (2018). Gathering mid-semester feedback: Three variations to improve instruction. IDEA Paper #67. https://www.ideaedu.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/IDEA%20Papers/IDEA%20Papers/PaperIDEA_67.pdf