Mid-Semester Feedback

Getting feedback from students around the midpoint of the semester helps instructors gather information about students’ experience of the course, in addition to anecdotal evidence instructors observe and the work students submit. Asking students for feedback is especially helpful when an instructor wants to know how a new technique, technology, or activity is working. It is also a great way for an instructor to show they care about students by taking the time to ask for and respond to feedback, and model how to be open to feedback. Finally, taking time to reflect on the course can provide your students with an opportunity to reflect on their own participation, learning, study habits, and more. All of these goals can be accomplished through a short survey. 

Planning Your Survey

To get started planning your mid-semester survey, consider the following:

  1. Timing: What timing will work best for you and your students? In a 14-week semester, sometime between weeks 5 and 8 usually works best. Remember to plan time for you to respond to student feedback.
  2. Questions: What do you want to know? Are you trying something new about which you’d especially like feedback? Is there anything special you want students to consider? See resources below for example questions, and only ask questions about elements of the course you are willing to consider adjusting.
  3. Incorporation of Feedback: How will you respond to student feedback? In courses of any size, it is helpful to display aggregate results back to students in the form of, “Here’s what I heard…” and “Here’s what I’ll keep doing…” and “Here’s what I will change…”. This could be during lecture, or via an online post.
  4. Class Size: How many students are in your class? This can help determine what ratio of closed- versus open-ended questions will work best for making use of student responses, as well as what technology to use. Most surveys can easily be built in Canvas or Google Forms, but some instructors prefer to use a paper survey during class or a more robust tool, like Qualtrics.
  5. Incentives: Share with students why their input is valuable. Being able to effect change in the remainder of the course or being able to help future students is motivational for many students. You may also consider awarding points for providing feedback. Some instructors award a small amount of extra credit (usually in a category related to participation) for completing a survey. If you plan to award points, it is easiest to use a Canvas Survey.
  6. Comparison: What questions will be asked of students at the end of the semester? Instructors may want to ask one or more questions that will also be asked at the end of the semester to provide data points that can be compared.
  7. Anonymity: Will student responses be anonymous? Making a survey anonymous is the best way to get honest feedback. In Canvas, an anonymous survey can still award points to students.

Example Questions

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Small enrollment course, all open-ended questions

These questions work well in smaller courses, where an instructor can take time to review individual responses. 

  1. What works well for you in this course? Why?  
  2. What has caused you difficulty in this course? Why? 
  3. What are two suggestions you think would improve this course? 

Larger enrollment course, mostly closed-ended questions

These questions can work in any size course but are particularly useful in larger courses, where it will be most efficient to review student responses in aggregate. A few open-ended questions may also be included, depending on the instructor’s ability to review individual responses. 

Please rate each of the following statements on a 5-point scale: strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree nor disagree, agree, strongly agree. 

  1. I understand how to participate in this course successfully. 
  2. Lectures are clear and organized.
  3. The readings help me understand lecture material. 
  4. I receive prompt, helpful feedback on my work. 
  5. The way the instructor(s) conduct(s) class keep(s) me engaged. 
  6. The course provides me with an opportunity to interact with and learn from other students. 
  7. I would recommend this course to another student. 

Please respond briefly to the following: 

  1. If you disagreed with any statements above, please share why. 
  2. List 2 things you like best about this course. 
  3. List 2 things you like least about this course. 

Questions to prompt student reflection or self-evaluation

The questions below can be added in cases where an instructor also wants to prompt students to reflect on their own participation, habits, or performance. Within these questions, an instructor may want to refer to or link back to the syllabus and course expectations. Keep in mind that a majority of these questions are open-ended, and so will be easier to use in smaller enrollment courses. 

  1. Consider your participation in our course so far. What grade would you give yourself? (Can be open-ended or closed-ended. If open, consider adding, “Why?”) 
  2. Relative to participating in class, what’s one thing you do well? 
  3. Relative to participating in class, what’s one thing you can improve? 
  4. Consider your experience of our course so far. What is one thing you are proud of and will continue to do? 
  5. Consider your experience of our course so far. What’s one thing you want to improve? 
  6. We recently completed a peer review, where you reviewed a peer’s work and received a peer’s comments on your own work. Did this activity help you improve your work? (Can be open-ended or closed-ended.) 

Example Instruments

For Smaller Enrollment Courses

The following examples include mostly open-ended questions to provide students with opportunity to put feedback in their own words.

Google Forms example for smaller enrollments: This anonymous survey includes 5 questions, 4 of which are open-ended. Google Forms is a great quick option if you don’t want to provide credit/points to students for completing the survey. Make your own copy of our smaller enrollment example survey.

Canvas Survey Template for smaller enrollments: This anonymous survey includes 4 open-ended questions. As an instructor, you can choose to award points to students for completing this survey. Through Canvas Commons, you can  import this Canvas survey template into your course. Please follow the steps below:

  1. Login to Canvas.

  2. Click the Commons icon in the red global navigation. If you have trouble, see these instructions for logging in and using Canvas Commons.

  3. Search for mid-semester smaller and click to access the module. You can preview the questions.

  4. Click the Import Button. Each Canvas Commons page has an import button to prompt an import process.

  5. Select the Canvas course(s) to receive the import. A list of all your Canvas Courses will appear. Select one or many courses for the import.

For Larger Enrollment Courses

The following examples include mostly closed-ended questions to make student feedback easier to review and analyze in aggregate.

Google Forms example for larger enrollments: This anonymous survey includes 7 closed-ended questions, plus two optional open-ended questions. Google Forms is a great quick option if you don’t want to provide credit/points to students for completing the survey. Make your own copy of our larger enrollment example survey.

Canvas Survey Template for larger enrollments: This anonymous survey includes 5 closed-ended questions, plus one optional open-ended question. As an instructor, you can choose to award points to students for completing this survey. Through Canvas Commons, you can preview and import our Canvas survey template into your course. Please follow the steps below:

  1. Login to Canvas.

  2. Click the Commons icon in the red global navigation. If you have trouble, see these instructions for logging in and using Canvas Commons.

  3. Search for mid-semester larger and click to access the module. You can preview the questions.

  4. Click the Import Button. Each Canvas Commons page has an import button to prompt an import process.

  5. Select the Canvas course(s) to receive the import. A list of all your Canvas Courses will appear. Select one or many courses for the import.

Using Your Survey

Distribute your survey to students around the midpoint of your course, when students have had time to experience a range of activities. Be sure to leave yourself time to analyze student responses, communicate results with students, and incorporate any changes in the remainder of the course.

As mentioned above, consider whether student responses will be anonymous as well as whether students will receive credit or extra credit for completing the survey. If using a tool external to Canvas, share a link to your survey through an email, Canvas Announcement, or Canvas Assignment. If using a Canvas Survey, make sure to publish it, assign it to students with a due date, and place it within a specific Module, if appropriate.

Schedule time to review responses after the due date. If you are using a Canvas Survey, make sure you know how to access student responses. See How do I view survey results in a course? from the Canvas Community.

Connect with Help

We are happy to help you adapt any of our instruments above for your course, brainstorm for your course, or get help implementing your ideas.

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References & Further Reading

Published March 2022, Revised October 2022