Quick tips on how to interpret mid-semester feedback data.

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Quick tips on how to interpret mid-semester feedback data.

Quick tips on how to interpret mid-semester feedback data.

The general sample questions provided in the "process" section of the mid-semster feedback playlist are centered around three themes. Here you can find quick tips for interpreting the data related to those themes, as well as links to other #iteachmsu articles. Remember the sample questions were written generally and with the audience, students, in mind. If you see (or don't see) jargon that would(n't) be typical in your field or discipline, keep in mind we attempted framing items in ways that would make sense for survey participants. 

Thanks to our colleagues from the Enhanced Digital Learning Initiative at MSU who provided the information adapted to this article: Scott Schopieray (CAL), Stephen Thomas (Nat. Sci.) Sarah Wellman (CAL & Broad), Jeremy Van Hof (Broad)!

Theme 1: Perceptions on purpose and alignment

This theme encompasses the sample questions where students indicate if they feel that they are prepared for class and understand expectations. Ideally, answers would trend toward “4. always” If that is true and students voice needs that they have in later answers, then you can explore relationships between, say, students who generally understand what is expected of them but (might be) confused about what assignments are asking of them (this is a curious relationship worth exploring with students).

Theme 1 example questions: I am prepared for class. I understand what is expected of me in preparation for class.

If responses raise concerns, consider: 

  • Clearly re-stating your course’s learning outcomes verbally and in writing 
  • Clearly indicating how an activity fits into the broader course structure, prepares students for the working world, or aligns with the outcomes 
  • Ensuring that the content assessed on tests & quizzes is content that’s been previewed in prior course activities 
  • Before any course event (lecture, activity, test, etc) state clearly what course objectives are addressed 

As you process the data from your students, be sure to focus on trends across feedback - both celebrations of what’s working and opportunities for change. This information provides you with an opportunity to highlight what is working for your own planning,in addition to providing supportive rationale for using certain teaching strategies (which you should share with your class.

Other resources include...

Theme 2: Perceptions of structure, community, and workload

This theme relates to questions that explore students’ perceptions of the class community, structure, and workload. These are powerful descriptive questions that enable you to explore a number of issues with students (and/or with your colleagues), depending on the nature of student responses. 

Theme 2 example questions: I have the opportunity to ask questions. The material is interesting and engaging. Feedback is provided in a manner that helps me learn. Instructions are clear. 

If responses raise concerns, consider: 

  • Narrowing the toolset students need to use to complete required activities 
  • Using the full suite of native tools in D2L – including the discussion board, the calendar, and the checklist 
  • Providing opportunities for students to interact with you and each other in a no-stress, non-academic setting (perhaps via Zoom before or after class) 
  • Re-visiting assignment and project descriptions to very clearly indicate how students use tools, seek assistance, and can contact you and/or their peers 
  • Building in multiple points of clarification and reminders of due dates and work processes  

You can also check out this from SOIREE:

Theme 3: Perceptions of learning environment 

Questions in this theme indicate students' self-perception of their learning and the learning environment. Three of these questions are open-ended, so you want to make sure you’re recognizing the time it takes students to provide this type of feedback.  An easy way to find patterns in the open ended responses is to paste all them into a word cloud generator. Consider using this tool: 

Theme 3 example questions: This course's meetings and activities motivate me to learn. The way new concepts are introduced is aligned with my learning style. Overall, my learning in this course meets my expectations. What elements of class have contributed to or proved most helpful for your learning so far? What could be added or changed to reduce barriers to learning in this class so far?

After you consider the responses to these questions in addition to the items in the themes above, you have information to adapt your plan for the remainder of the semester. Be sure to tell your students what you’re changing and why (based on what feedback). Asking for feedback without following up can suggest to students that their opinions might not matter, and harm your relationship. Instead, address opportunities for what you and they can do to make the most of the semester, share your intended plans for utilizing the feedback, and thank students for their honesty, inviting them to continue working with you to improve the course.

You can also consider checking out these additional resources from SOIREE: