Collecting Feedback on your Teaching

Collecting formative student feedback on your course is an effective part of critically reflecting on your teaching in order to improve. Just like the formative feedback instructors provide to students, formative student feedback to instructors helps improve and adjust teaching strategies and methods, part of what Brookfield (2017) describes as being a critically reflective teacher.

Depending on when the feedback is requested, instructors can also make adjustments to their course while it is still happening, or apply feedback to future course iterations. And evidence from student feedback can be useful as one of many types of evidence of teaching effectiveness documented in a teaching dossier.

Here are a few considerations when preparing to collect student feedback.

Sections:

Student Feedback

Prompting Students to Give Good Feedback

This is always a challenge, but fortunately there are many things you can do to help students provide feedback that’s useful to you.

  1. Explain that you value feedback, take it seriously, and use it to improve your teaching. Students are more likely to give meaningful and thoughtful feedback it if they think it will be valued. 
     
  2. Prompt students to reflect on the whole course, not just the last few classes, by reminding students of the learning outcomes for the course as a whole, directing their attention back to the syllabus, and reminding them of the course timeline in terms of content, assessments, and instructional activities. 
     
  3. Give students samples of the style feedback you find helpful. Share an example of what constructive feedback looks like to you, or provide students with questions that guide them towards meaningful comments. Ideally, you will have been modelling this type of feedback in the feedback you’ve provided to students throughout the semester. 
     
  4. Be aware that results may be biased. Research is mixed, but does suggest that student feedback on courses could be influenced by instructor identities (e.g., gender, race), the learning environment, and students’ first impressions of an instructor. Student feedback on courses should always be one of many means for assessing and evaluating teaching; peer review of teaching and teaching materials, scholarship of teaching and learning, and professional observation reports are also key pieces of evidence of teaching effectiveness.

Using onQ to Set up a Midterm Student Feedback Survey

We recommend that instructors develop feedback surveys using the survey tool in onQ, as this is the most widely-used and well-supported software currently available at Queen’s. Instructors may use other tools if they wish, as long as they conform to the recommendations above, particularly regarding student anonymity and privacy. It’s also preferable to use a tool that students and the instructor are both familiar with.

Instructional videos explaining how to set up the survey are available through our YouTube Channel:

              Creating an anonymous survey in onQ

              Generating a report of survey responses

The CTL is not able to provide generic questions for instructors to use in their surveys, but we are happy to review questions with an instructor once they are developed and assist with survey set-up in onQ. Email ctl@queensu.ca to set up an individual consultation.

Teaching Observations

The process of observing teaching provides both parties with the opportunity to learn from each other. It also provides an opportunity to disseminate good practice amongst colleagues by sharing thoughts on teaching practice and supporting each other’s development of teaching skills.

It can be beneficial to observe colleagues from other departments, to enable staff observing and exchanging teaching practices with colleagues from cognate disciplines.

The staff of the CTL are available for teaching observations. Please email us at ctl@queensu.ca to request a teaching observation.

What to Do with Feedback After You Receive It

The CTL is happy to consult with you individually in terms of how to interpret results, look for common themes, and find areas of strength and for improvement.

You can include summaries and points you wish to emphasize in the ‘evidence of effectiveness’ section of your teaching dossier. Refer your readers to the appendix for the full survey. A well-designed teaching dossier will have many different types of evidence of effectiveness, and the CTL’s teaching dossier resource goes into more detail on what those could be.

QUFA Members should follow the requirements laid out in the Collective Agreement Article 29.4 (above). Include a statement explaining how you administered the survey, the response rate, all questions asked, and any other pertinent information.

A sample format might be as follows:

End of Course Survey

Course: [COURSE CODE & TITLE]

Description:

End of term onQ survey created by the instructor for a course taught in the Winter 2020 term for the purpose of receiving formative feedback from students in order to improve course design and/or teaching effectiveness. All responses were voluntary and anonymous. See Appendix for the instructions given to students, the full survey, and all responses.

Question Mean Score
[pertinent question 1]  
[question 2]    
[etc.  

Representative Student Comments: [INSERT]

Instructor’s Responses to Comments/Plans for Improvement: [INSERT]

Additional Resources

Other References

Brookfield, Stephen J. 2017. Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching – Student Evaluations of Teaching

University of Calgary Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning – Formative Feedback Resources