Incorporating Midterm Course Evaluations into Your Online Course

The middle of the term is an excellent time to ask students to think about, and comment on, their perspectives on the course and on your teaching. Unlike end-of-term course evaluations, midterm evaluations offer the opportunity not only to make adjustment in a faculty’s teaching “mid- stream”, but also to return to the class with thoughtful commentary on student’s feedback and suggestions. Asking students to provide feedback at mid-term makes it clear that the faculty take their ideas seriously and that the faculty is dedicated to improving the course and their learning.

While faculty should always encourage students to talk personally with the faculty if they have concerns about the course, students often need another, “low-stakes” means of communicating about those concerns. Moreover, providing students a chance to respond to the course, in an anonymous format, will encourage them to communicate responses that they may not feel comfortable providing in person–including positive comments.

Asking for student comments on midterm course evaluations may also help the faculty to identify and address issues related to classroom dynamics that students might otherwise be reluctant to mention, such as issues that arise when other students are not fully participating in group work. Even when students do not address these issues themselves, midterm is an excellent time to reinforce course policies and expectations related to these issues–without “calling out” individual students.

Incorporating midterm student evaluations is a 3- step process

1. Designing the Evaluation Questionnaire

Prepare an evaluation questionnaire that contains a few questions about the major aspects of the course (e.g. lectures, discussions, assignments, group work). Open-ended questions are best, and it is often useful to ask students to provide both a quantitative rating and comments. The following questionnaires are samples that you may use, or adapt to fit the course. Remember, not to ask students to write their names on the evaluations. Maintaining anonymity will encourage your students to provide the honest and specific responses that will be useful to everyone.

2. Administering the Evaluations

Set aside 15 – 20 minutes during the mid – term week to ask students to complete the evaluation questionnaires. When you share the questionnaires, tell students that you value their responses, which will help you to understand their perspectives on the course, your teaching, and the assignments. Encourage them to be specific in their comments.

3. Responding to the Evaluations

After you collect the evaluations, read the students’ comments carefully. Think about whether an y of the comments might lead to making changes in the teaching approach. Alternatively, consider whether any of the comments suggest that the faculty need to communicate more clearly or explicitly with students about the major requirements of the course or about the purposes behind various class activities or assignments.

Make a brief list of comments that would be good to respond the following week .Use the Announcements feature to respond and allow for comments. Discussing your response to a few of the students’ responses or suggestions will underscore to students that you do indeed take their comments seriously.

The faculty might also respond to student suggestions with an explanation of why you have decided NOT to make any adjustments. It always helps to s how appreciation for their input and explain why you can’t make that change at this time. The important point is to make clear that you have read and devoted thought to the students’ comments. Doing so will go a long way toward encouraging students to communicate with you, or your course assistants, about the course.

At the end of the term, revisit the midterm evaluations, along with the end – of – term course evaluations, to remind yourself of the feedback students provided at each stage. Then, write a few notes to yourself about specific aspects of the feedback that you will want to remember the next time that you teach. Decide if you want to make permanent changes to the development site.

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This material is adapted from: Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial – NoDerivatives 4.0 International License .