Time to Check In

Feedback, Early and Often

How are your classes going so far? Are your students on track? By this point in the semester, students need some feedback on their progress. They, and we, need to know whether they’re learning what we want them to learn, so we can figure out what to adjust.

As Ambrose et al. (2010) explain, “key features of effective feedback are that it (a) communicates to students where they are relative to the stated goals and what they need to do to improve and (b) provides this information to students when they can make the most use of it.” If feedback comes too late, it doesn’t help learners develop.

That goes for us, too. We need to find out, early in the term, whether we’re reaching our students, and where they’re struggling, so we can fine-tune the learning experiences we’re building for them. Hopefully your students have already turned in some substantial work, and taken quizzes or tests, so they know where they stand. But grades are not the only useful data. Midterm evaluations give you vital information on the health of your course, and send students the message that you’re committed to their progress and success. (They also tend to improve end-of-semester evaluations, IF you close the loop and address them with your students, letting them know what you heard and what you’re able to adjust.)

If you can spare about 25 minutes of class time, CAT can talk to your students about how their learning experience is going, in a process called Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID). We’ll meet with you afterwards to discuss the responses and your plans for what to tweak. You can also administer one of our template midterm evaluation surveys, available through Canvas. (Instructions here. We’re available, at your request, to help you interpret what you hear and consider changes you’d like to make.)

Two provisos: Students must be confident that the feedback process is safe—that it’s anonymous—so they can respond frankly. (You also should be assured that it’s voluntary, optional, and entirely confidential: midterm feedback is purely for formative purposes.) It’s also essential that you follow up with students, accommodating reasonable, useful suggestions, and explaining why others aren’t feasible.

In SGIDs last fall, surprisingly many students asked for more quizzes and more practice; they wanted to know how they were doing so they could improve. If you’re eager for feedback, too, write us at pro-teaching@fsu.edu to schedule a session.

Upcoming Events and Additional Services:

Assignment Design Workshop: Thursday, February 8, 2:00-3:30 in Strozier 107K. For support in crafting engaging assignments—projects, papers, experiences, exercises, etc.–that produce deep learning, and measure student progress accurately, please sign up for this hands-on workshop. We can help you revise existing assignments or devise new ones. To RSVP, email pro-teaching@fsu.edu.

CAT “Office hours” at Strozier: We’re now hosting walk-in consultation hours at Strozier, in the Scholars’ Commons, Room 006A, on Tuesdays from 10:00-11:30, and Wednesdays 2:00-3:30. Please stop by to share your great ideas about teaching, get feedback on anything from an assignment to a SoTL project to a new course you’re designing, or discuss a teaching question. We look forward to seeing you!