The middle of the semester is the perfect time to gather feedback on your teaching, whether from your students or a colleague. Such feedback can help you to demonstrate your openness to new ideas and to identify specific adjustments you can make to promote student learning throughout the remaining weeks of the semester.
Consider asking students to complete a brief, anonymous midterm evaluation or feedback form. Doing so will help you to lower any perceived communication barriers between you and your students and will help you communicate that you value student input on which teaching methods, class activities, and assignments are contributing the most (and the least) to their learning.
Student feedback can also help you to identify and work to overcome any issues that might be preventing some students from feeling comfortable enough to participate in class discussions or to ask and respond to questions. For example, when given a chance to provide anonymous feedback on group work, students might report on conduct by other students or by the instructor that leaves them feeling that their contributions are less valued than the contributions of others. This information can then lead you to work with the students to make sure they are learning respectful ways of interacting and learning in groups. For more ideas, please see our resources page on “Incorporating Midterm Course Evaluations.” For help with designing and responding to midterm evaluations, please contact us at The Teaching Center.
In addition, consider asking a colleague from your department or from The Teaching Center to observe your class. A description of what a colleague observes in your classroom can provide invaluable insights regarding what is going well, when your students seem most and least engaged, and any participation patterns that may be affecting the learning environment. By returning the favor and offering to observe your colleague, moreover, you can help to ensure that both of you will learn new approaches and methods that you can use right away to improve learning and engagement.
Teaching Center observations of teaching typically include video-recording of classroom teaching. In all cases, Teaching Center staff will meet with you to discuss your course and course objectives, and to identify the aspects of the course that are going quite well and the aspects that you’d like to further refine. Please contact us to schedule an observation and consultation.
As we approach November, it bears keeping in mind that–just as in voting–the best time to get feedback on our teaching is “early and often.”