Mid-term Student Feedback

I.  Why Do Mid-term Student Feedback?

Mid-semester student feedback is a teaching assessment technique designed to elicit formative feedback from students during the semester, when it can be acted on to improve the course and students’ learning. Gathering student feedback at mid-semester is optimal for an instructor to get the pulse of the course––to find out what students are thinking about the instructor, the course material, and their own learning–– when it is not too late to make adjustments if necessary. Students’ appreciate the instructors’ concern about their learning and the opportunity to express their responses to the course. 

II.  What Does Research Show About Mid-term Student Feedback?

“Cohen (1980) performed a meta-analysis of 17 studies that examined effects of midterm evaluation on improving teaching. He found that receiving feedback from student ratings administered during the first half of the term was positively related to improving teaching as measured by student ratings at the end of term. Similarly, Murray (2007) showed (on the basis of Murray & Smith, 1989) that midterm feedback with ratings of specific behaviors led to significant improvement of classroom teaching, as indicated by significantly higher ratings of Overall Teaching at the end of term. Murray concluded that under the right conditions, midterm feedback on specific teaching behaviors could significantly improve teaching. “  (Student Ratings of Instruction:  A Practical Approach to Designing, Operating, and Reporting.  Also, Student Ratings of Instruction:  Recognizing Effective Teaching. Both by Nira Hativa.  Oron Publications, 2013.)
Cohen, P. A. (1980). Effectiveness of student-rating feedback for improving college instruction: A meta-analysis of findings. Research in Higher Education, 13(4), 321-341. 

Murray, H. G. (2007). Low-inference teaching behaviors and college teaching effectiveness: Recent developments and controversies. In R. P. Perry & J. C. Smart (Eds.), The scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education: An evidence-based perspective (pp. 145-200). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

Murray, H.G., and Smith, T.A. (1989). Effects of Midterm Behavioral Feedback on End of-term Ratings of Instructor Effectiveness. Paper presented at annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, San Francisco.


III.  Models for Mid-Term Student Feedback

These techniques are organized roughly from the least time-consuming to administer and evaluate at the top, to the more time-consuming but often the most informative at the bottom.

Three Questions

  • What in the class so far has helped your learning the most?
  • What in the class so far has hindered your learning?
  • What suggestions do you have to improve the course?

These are commonly used questions that appear in many resources for mid-term student feedback. They are a quick and easy way to elicit students’ responses to your teaching and their own learning at mid-semester.  See Section IV below for tips on successfully using the material you gather.

The Duquesne University website offers the following mid-semester evaluation techniques:

Pluses and Wishes

"As this course progressed, I was able to get it back on track by using a mid-semester evaluation process called "pluses and wishes." Students divided the evaluation sheet in half and placed all the positives about the course on one side and suggestions for improvement on the other. For the most part, the students were satisfied with the course, but the one "wish" that was prevalent was to increase student interaction" (Ladson-Billings, 1996).


Traffic Light Survey

Nakpangi Johnson (Pharmacy Graduate) uses a "One Minute Traffic Light Survey.”

 One Minute Traffic Light Survey

And these additional surveys from Duquesne at:


KQS Survey
Keep doing, Quit doing, Start doing:  another simple but informative mid-term survey.

Early Course Evaluation Survey Questionnaire
Lists items for students to evaluate, asking them to choose from 1 Strongly Agree to 5 Strongly Disagree. (See Duquesne website for a list of possible items.)

Open-Ended Early Course Evaluation
Lists items in sentences for students to complete.  (See the Duquesne website for a list of possible items.)

From the Iowa State University Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning:

A Mid-term Formative Evaluation Video.   For guidance in getting mid-semester feedback from students, watch this 9-minute video of an instructor leading his class through a mid-semester evaluation and commenting on the benefits of the process.

The PLUS/DELTA Classroom Assessment Technique from the Iowa State Center is fully described at http://www.celt.iastate.edu/teaching-resources/document-your-teaching/plusdelta/ .  Students divide a paper or index card into quadrants.  On the PLUS side they answer  “What is helping me learn in this course?” and “What am I doing to improve my learning in the course?”  On the DELTA side they answer “What changes are needed in this course to improve learning?” and “What do I need to do to improve my learning in this course?”

The Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching presents a variety of mid-semester feedback strategies from Tools for Teaching by Barbara Gross Davis. These include In-Class Feedback Forms.  See http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/student-feedback/.

Here are three of Vanderbilt’s forms as PDFs (for copying and printing) and Word documents (for modifying or customizing). 

In-Class Feedback Forms

Form A: PDF / Word

Form B: PDF Word

Form C: PDF Word

Two more surveys and a list of additional questions are offered at the McGraw Center at Princeton University site for Mid-Semester Course Evaluations.

Form D Student Questionnaire

Form E Student Rating Form

Mid-Term Evaluation Questions


Online Surveys

Student Assessment of Their Learning Gains (SALG).
A free online survey from the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research designed for faculty in all disciplines to get feedback from their students on various elements of a course. Once you register, you can modify the survey to fit your course.   Students take the survey online; the Wisconsin Center provides a statistical report. Register at this link to use the site:

Students’ Evaluation of Educational Quality (SEEQ).
A comprehensive student rating form heavily researched by nearly one million respondents as giving useful information about teaching effectiveness. 
Here is a sample SEEQ:

Methods Requiring a Trained Consultant

Classroom Observation
About mid-semester, a trained F&OD consultant observes one or more of your class sessions and/or videotapes a session if you prefer.  The consultant later meets with you to discuss the observation(s) and suggest ways of improving the course and your teaching effectiveness in the second part of the semester.  Or you may analyze the videotape together.

Midterm Student Feedback (MSF)
Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID)
Small Group Analysis (SGA)

A trained teaching consultant from the F&OD office spends about 45 minutes in your class at mid-semester gathering feedback from your students about what is effective and what is not so effective in helping them learn in this course. You are not present for this session. After reviewing the data, the consultant meets with you to discuss students’ responses and suggest ways of improving the course and your teaching effectiveness.  You also receive a written report.

Small Group Instructional Diagnosis: Student Feedback through Consensus, SFC, (University of Minnesota, Center for Teaching and Learning Services).
This site describes the Student Feedback through Consensus process and provides an informative, short, 5-part video demonstrating how it is carried out.

Additional forms and methods for mid-semester course evaluations can be found at the following university sites:

North Carolina State University Office of Faculty Development, Diane Chapman Contains faculty testimonials plus a sample technique.

Old Dominion University Center for Learning and Teaching

Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence

IV.  Using Information from Student Feedback on Teaching

Using Midterm Evaluations and Other Sources of Student Feedback on Teaching,” Michele Marincovich.   
An excerpt from Chapter 3 in Changing Practices in Evaluating Teaching by Peter Seldin and Associates (Anker Publishing Co., 1999). Sets out the benefits of using several types of midterm student feedback, and offers cautions and guidelines for their use.  From Tomorrow's Professor Msg. #313.  

What to do with the information you gather on a mid-semester evaluation (University of California Berkeley, Division of Undergraduate Education).
Tips for making effective use of students’ mid-semester feedback.

V.  Michigan State University Services for Mid-Term Student Feedback

Consultations and Related Services at Michigan State University (Office of Faculty and Organizational Development, F&OD).
Scroll down to Mid-Semester Student Feedback Sessions for a description of this service available to all Michigan State University instructors.


VI.  Other Techniques for Formative Assessment (CATs)

Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)” by Lee Haugen (Iowa State University).
This concise introduction to CATs describes their characteristics and benefits for both teachers and students, then presents a chart of numerous CATs with directions, uses, and time needs.

"Do You Know Where Your Students Are? Classroom Assessment and Student Learning." Speaking of Teaching, Stanford University Newsletter on Teaching, Vol. 4, No. 2, Winter 1993.
A discussion of the need for student feedback on learning plus strategies for gathering this information.

Sample Classroom Assessment Techniques (Indiana University-Bloomington, Campus Instructional Consulting).

Descriptions of eight commonly used CATs, including what to do with the data for each.

Field-tested Learning Assessment Guide (FLAG) for science, math, engineering, and technology instructors (National Institute for Science Education).
Click on "Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)" to find extremely thorough instructional modules for many CATs useful in the sciences as well as other disciplines. Click on "Matching Goals to CATs" to find appropriate CATs for your own course goals.

A Handbook for Student Management Teams, Edward Nuhfer (Idaho State University, Center for Teaching and Learning).

The complete manual for using Student Management Teams (SMTs), a classroom strategy in which a team of students from the class meets regularly throughout the semester both with and without the professor “to discuss how teaching and learning might be improved and to define positive actions that will help reap immediate and long-term benefits.”


VII.   Additional Resources on Mid-Semester Feedback

“Down with the SGID!  Long Live the QCD!” Barbara J. Millis and Jose Vazquez, University of Texas at San Antonio.  In Essays on Teaching Excellence:  Toward the Best in the Academy, Vol. 22, No. 4, 2010-1011.

How Am I Teaching? :  Forms and Activities for Acquiring Instructional Input,  M. Weimer, J. Parrett and M. Kerns, 1988.  A small book with many forms and activities that allow you to gather information about students’ responses to your course and their own learning.

“The Online Small Group Analysis (OSG): Adapting a Tested Formative Assessment Technique for Online Teaching,” R. Crow, D. McGinty, and J. LeBaron (Western Carolina University).  From MountainRise, the International Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Summer 2008. Describes the development of a formative assessment technique for online teaching.

 “Small Group Instructional Diagnosis:  A Method for Enhancing Writing Instruction,” Darsie Bowden.  From WPA:  Writing Program Administration, Vol. 28, Nos 1-2, 2004. Details of SGID at DePaul and Western Washington University.

“Using Midsemester Student Feedback and Responding to It,” Karron G. Lewis.  In New Directions for Teaching and Learning, No. 87, Fall 2001.

 “Utilizing instructional consultations to enhance the teaching performance of engineering faculty,” Finelli, C. J., Ott, M., Gottfried, A. C., Hershock,C., O’Heal, C., & Kaplan, M. Journal of Engineering Education, 97(4), 397-411, October 2008.