SoTL in 10 minutes
SIRs – Student instructional Report II
It is the
bane of many of our existences. But it is not without merit. I find
the comments, especially patterns and trends, to be quite valuable in improving
or redesigning a course for the next semester. In some cases, I wish I
had known what the students were feeling and experiencing (educationally) prior
to the beginning of the next term – when we typically receive our reports and
comments. Whether you are a new professor, trying something new with a
course this semester, or have suffered from less than stellar evaluations,
consider giving a mid-term evaluation. Ask your students what they think,
what they like, what they would like to see change about your course mid-way
through the semester – and consider making some adjustments to improve the
course and the student experience. Here are some other opinions on the
topic. Later in the week you will receive links to mid-evaluation tools
to adopt and adapt.
Emphasis on Student Evaluations Grows, Professors Increasingly Seek Midcourse
Higher Education 58(11), 11/4/2011
Faculty and Student Perceptions of the Effects of Mid-Course Evaluations on Learning and Teaching
abstract below literally comes from a dissertation! She published in a
journal that JU doesn’t subscribe to. I know you don’t have time to read
the whole thing, but Chapter 7 (pp129-157) is the article written for
of Instructional Psychology and Technology
Student Perceptions of the Effects of Mid-Course Evaluations on Learning and
The focus of
this study is to describe the effects of mid-course evaluations on teaching and
student learning. A mixed methods approach was used, combining faculty and student
surveys, faculty interviews, debriefing sessions, and a comparison of
mid-course evaluations scores with end-of-semester scores. Out of 510 section
mean scores (128 sections) from faculty members who participated in the study,
352 section mean scores (88 sections, 69%) showed students’ perceptions of
their own learning improved between the time they completed the mid-course
evaluation and the time they completed the end-of-course student rating survey.
Results showed when faculty administered a mid-course evaluation, students’
perceptions of their own learning improved.
members saw more improvement if they conducted a mid-course evaluation, read
the feedback, and discussed this input with their students. Faculty members saw
the most improvement in their ratings when they also made changes based upon
student feedback. The results of this study should be encouraging to all
faculty members and administrators who may feel they want to improve their
teaching and increase student learning but have limited time to devote to
How do I create a mid-term evaluation survey?
glad you asked. It can be anything you want or need it to be – and might
differ between different courses, and even different sections. Open ended
questions might get you some off topic suggestions – that are still worthy of
consideration. Specific questions about something you perceive the
students to be struggling with, or that new assignment/pedagogy you are testing
out this semester will ensure feedback on that topic. But their concerns
might be broader or different. You can model them off the SIR II, cherry
picking the questions you believe to be most relevant to your course.
Don’t forget to ask them about their effort, involvement, and interest in the
course – eye opening for you and for them.
again here are some ideas to adopt and adapt.
What do you do with the information received?
Do something with it – and let the students know
about it. A graph or table summarizing the data lets each student know
where their ideas rank with their peers.
Some of the ideas will be good ones – but not
all can be incorporated mid-semester. Knowing they are helping improve
the course for the future can empower your students to speak up in the future
and in other courses and situations.
Some of the ideas will be incompatible with your
course goals or teaching philosophy. But don’t ignore the idea(s),
especially if they are coming from multiple students. Perhaps it is time
to talk about or elaborate on the purpose of a particular assignment, project
or paper. It communicates your expectations to the students and
establishes respect and rapport.
finally, you can some make of the changes recommended by the students.
Your goal is to let your students demonstrate understanding of the material –
so let them do so.
Making the change
given your survey, gotten some good ideas and feedback and now you want to make
a change. I am unaware of an official policy at JU for changing a
syllabus once the semester has begun – and I could only find brief reference to
the topic at other universities. Best practices include:
Have a class discussion and vote on the new
Consider an anonymous discussion board on
blackboard as some students may be uncomfortable with speaking their mind if
they disagree with the faculty member or are in the minority.
Sufficient warning to the students – delay the
start of any new schedule or grading scheme for a week.
Only make changes that are in the student’s best
interest – no new major assignments or projects created, total points earned
approximately the same. Save the other ideas, good ideas but too
burdensome for a mid-semester incorporation, for the next time you teach the
forward, indicate in your syllabus that there will be a mid-term evaluation and
that the syllabus is subject to revision.