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Using Midterm Evaluations to Improve Teaching

A Discussion with Dr. Paul Quick
UGA Center for Teaching and Learning

Midterm evaluations are an important tool for soliciting student feedback that can help improve your teaching for current courses and future semesters. Classroom Assessment Techniques by Cross and Angelo suggests using the following simple 3 question survey that students can answer anonymously:

  1. What does your instructor do that helps your learning?
  2. What does your instructor do that hinders your learning?
  3. What are one or two concrete, specific things that you would suggest to improve your learning?

Some instructors are also starting to ask the following question:

  1. What are you doing to help your learning? And what aren't you doing that you should do?

The important thing is to collect student responses, use them to reflect on your current teaching, and then address issues in class (ideally within a couple of days). This last part can be difficult for some instructors because it involves a discussion about the very administration of the class and can sometimes seem personal.

Dr. Paul Quick of the UGA Center for Teaching and Learning suggests that reporting the results of the evaluation to your students is key. According to Quick, "Addressing the things that they suggest, either explaining why you can't/won't/aren't able to do them or what you will try to do to accommodate their requests is critically important."

"I've always found this a good occasion to reiterate the reason why we are doing some things," Quick says. "On top of addressing concerns during the semester instead of at the end, you have a chance to change the class while it still is a class."

Quick suggests yet another benefit to midterm evaluations. "It also can foster good will that you are listening to [your students], that you are concerned about their learning, and that you are willing to be flexible. Students tend to take midterm evals more seriously because they have a stake in offering insights and suggestions, so the quality is usually better than end-of-semester evaluations."

Whichever method you choose, soliciting student feedback early and often is an important tool for continued improvement of your courses.

References

Angelo, T. A. & Cross, K. B. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers, 2nd Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

 

 

Written by: Michael Amlung
Last updated: 9.20.2010

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