Feedback on Your Teaching
Midterm evaluations are an often-overlooked instrument for assessment and improvement. Because they are generally formative (that is, their purpose is to determine needs for improvement in the immediate future), and typically not passed along to one’s department, these can be especially valuable. There are a variety of different ways for you to collect midterm feedback and we describe a few options below.
Mid-Semester Feedback Surveys
One way you can collect feedback is through the use of a feedback survey. You can use Google Forms, a Qualtrics survey, or even create an anonymous survey on ELMS.
The TLTC designed the Mid-Semester Evaluation of College Teaching (MSECT), a research-based formative evaluation tool that instructors can use to gather valid, reliable, and actionable feedback on their teaching. This tool is based on the TLTC's Fearless Teaching Framework and can be downloaded from Canvas Commons and modified for individual use. For more information about this free tool for UMD instructors, visit Mid-Semetster Evaluation of College Teaching.
Free Response Feedback
Some people prefer to provide students with the open opportunity to talk about their experiences in the course. If you would like to create your own free response feedback instrument, click here to see three sample midterm evaluations you could use or modify.
Peer review is an established way in academia to evaluate research, but it is less common in the assessment of teaching. Most commonly, we think of peer observations as one way to improve teaching, but peer review can be a wonderful tool in improving teaching on an individual and team level, building camaraderie, clear departmental goals, and a track by which instructors work together on continuous improvement.
Departments can encourage the use of peer review with new and experienced instructors in some of the following ways:
- Encourage junior instructors to observe a variety of courses within the department.
- Pair or group sets of instructors to observe one another more than once over a set period of time, encouraging thoughtful reflection of teaching and feedback on changes implemented.
- Remind instructors of this valuable tool as situations arise.
Peer Observations are good for:
- new instructors who would like informal feedback
- graduate assistants
- a group or groups of instructors for collaboration, mentoring, feedback
The TLTC has prepared a guide to help organize and complete peer observations of teaching.
If you would like help coordinating a process for peer review for instructors in your area, please request a consultaton.
Having someone observe your class and your teaching can provide beneficial feedback to you, as well as provide both you and the observer with an opportunity to reflect and talk about effective and engaging teaching practices.
The TLTC provides a limited number of non-evaluative course observations each semester.
TLTC Course Observations are for instructors who have:
- taught at UMD for two or more semesters,
- have received and incorporated other forms of feedback, which often includes peer observations of teaching,
- would like informal, confidential feedback on ways to improve a teaching or facilitation method.
- new instructor,
- manage or coordinate a number of instructors and need to observe them, or
- need an observation that will be used as part of a performance evaluation.
Who do I contact to arrange a TLTC Course Observation?
Request a consultation with a TLTC staff member as early as possible in the semester, as we have a limited number of slots. We are unable to provide observations for large sets of instructors, and do not provide evaluative observations.
What is a SGID?
Small-Group Instructional Diagnosis is a structured interview process offered midway through a term to ask groups of students to identify:
- issues that are helpful to their learning
- improvements that could be made in a particular course
Using open-ended questions, students are encouraged to create constructive feedback in small groups and then in a full-class discussion, facilitated by a TLTC staff member. Discussions and results are kept confidential between the instructor and the facilitator.
How does a SGID work?
- The instructor and facilitator meet to review the SGID process, individualize the questions, and schedule a mutually convenient time to conduct the SGID, which requires approximately 30 minutes.
- On the day of the SGID, the instructor introduces the facilitator to the class and explains the purpose of the process. The instructor leaves the room.
- The facilitator then divides the students into small groups of 3 - 4, gives them a handout that include the questions (with space for concrete examples). There is usually a question about what the students think is working in the course and a question about what they would like to see changed.
- Students in each group must come to a consensus about what they like or do not like about a course and the suggestions for improving it. The consensus method eliminates the extreme outliers in the group.
- After students have completed their lists, the facilitator leads a whole group discussion, inviting the students to share their group lists.
- The facilitator develops consensus among groups about the most and least effective elements of the course, noting outliers or additional information that arises.
- After the session (within a week or two), the facilitator meets with the instructor to report the results of the SGID.
- The instructor reports back to the class, explaining how the students’ feedback informs the course design, activities, or assignments in that course or future courses. This step is one of the most important in the SGID process, since it demonstrates the instructor's commitment to improving teaching and learning and respect for the students' feedback.
Benefits of the SGID process:
- The feedback obtained can lead to improvements in instruction as well as enhancing the positive experiences of students in the class.
- Student participation allows students to compare views, so that extremely divergent student views may be reconsidered or moderated.
- Students can provide constructive suggestions in a timeframe that allows for instructor adaptation, instead of waiting for the formal student evaluations at the end of the semester.
- Faculty and student communication improves.
- A SGID is one way to reflect on your teaching a reflective practice, and make continuous improvements based on student feedback.
Who do I contact to arrange a SGID?
Request a consultation with a TLTC staff member as early as possible in the semester. Ideally, the SGID will be completed prior to the 8th week of the semester.
The TLTC has a limited number of SGID slots available each semester. Please remember to allow time to organize the SGID, and bear in mind that contacting us early makes it more likely that a facilitator will be available. The process is non-evaluative, however, the written statement and instructor follow-up can be documented for future use as evidence of commitment to excellence in teaching.
This information is cited from J. H. Herman's and M. Langridge's Chapter 15 in To Improve the Academy Volume 31, "Using Small Group Individual Diagnoses to Improve Online Instruction," pp. 230 231. Also from McKeachie's Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers, Fourteenth Edition, pp. 334335. Information adapted from Kennesaw State University Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Seattle University Center for Teaching and Learning, and Central New Mexico Community College Cooperative for Teaching and Learning.
Interested in working in partnership with a TLTC staff member over a longer term to help you focus on your own growth goals around teaching? Consider applying for an Instructional Coaching Partnership, where you work one-on-one with an instructional coach over approximately six sessions during the semester, with up to two in-class feedback, observation, or small group diagnosis sessions. If you are interested in learning more, please email us.
Student Feedback on Course Experiences
The University has implemented an online, campus-wide course feedback system which can be found at courseexp.umd.edu. Access to results is driven by participation. Students can see reports on scaled items when 70% or more of a course’s students complete the survey.
The University distributes email notifications when a student has an open survey. Teachers (instructors and TAs) who are included in the survey receive survey schedule emails near the start of the semester and reminder emails when the surveys are due to open and close.
All of the above is summary information taken from the Student Feedback on Course Experiences Help Center which explains the history of the system, information about its current features, and plans for future enhancements.
For information and advice on how to interpret this student feedback, see Interpreting Student Feedback.
Please note that if you are not officially listed as a TA or course instructor in the University course registration system (SIS), and flagged for inclusion in the survey, your students will not be able to fill out a course experiences survey for you. For questions about your status of a course that you are teaching, please see your departmental registration coordinator or the “Which Courses are Surveyed” Help Center article.
Free Response Feedback
If there are more specific questions that you have about your course or you would like more directed feedback, you can also create free response instruments for the end of the semester. Here are free response survey examples that you can use and modify.
- TLTC Mid-Semester Evaluation of College Teaching (MSECT)
- Sample Free-Response Mid-Term Feedback tools
Request a consultation to discuss a TLTC Observation or Small Group Instructional Diagnosis
If you would like individualized feedback about your course and your teaching, feel free to schedule a consultation with a member of the TLTC staff. Fill out a consultation request form here.