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Asking Students for Feedback

February 22, 2018

By Jennifer Albat (Instructional Design & Learning Technologies)

How’s It Going? No, that’s not a question for you. Is that a question you ever ask your students? Are they finding assignment instructions to be clear enough? Are the course materials aligned with the exams? Is there anything you can do to improve the course? Other than formal end-of-semester evaluations, do we really take the time to ensure that our students are okay with the design of the course?

Course design is hard work, especially the first time. You may have really good intentions with creating elaborate assignments to connect with the course content, but it can be confusing or excessive work for students. By checking in with students 2-3 weeks into the semester, you still have time to steer things back on track before you may lose some of them. It is also advantageous because every group of students is different and may have unique needs.

I acquired this idea from a former colleague of mine. She used to give a survey titled How’s it going? in week 3 of a 16-week class. Often times she learned that the survey was a perfect opportunity to have a dialog with the students to clarify misunderstandings, and explain why suggested changes could or could not be implemented. In online classes, she found that many students were not reading the details which made her set up incentives to read announcements and the feedback on assignments more closely.

Listening to the students and even discussing suggestions in class can lead to more appreciation for you, an increase in enthusiasm from the students, and better end-of-semester evaluations.

Surveys can be given in a pencil and paper format, or the Blackboard survey tool can be utilized. Limit the number of questions, and keep them specific. A few examples are provided below.

How is the pace of the course? Too fast, Too slow, Just right

What do you like best about the course?

What do you dislike about the course?

What changes would you make if you were teaching the course?

After the surveys have been collected, keep in mind that not all the comments may be kind. Choose 1-2 changes you would like to implement after finding some themes in the reviews. Finding these similarities can be easier with a colleague or an Instructional Designer from Instructional Design & Learning Technologies. Discuss your planned changes with the class, letting them know that their voices are being heard. Be sure to share negative comments in a positive light. Continue to observe any progress after the changes have been implemented. Visit for more tips on administering the survey, and a list of sample questions.


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