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Early and Mid-Semester Student Feedback

The Center for Teaching and Learning recommends capturing student feedback at various points within the semester, including mid-term. The goal is a dialogue about students’ learning, not an evaluation of the instructor’s teaching. This resource outlines two approaches for collecting feedback from your students:

    1. The simple Start, Stop, Continue method
    2. A question bank for gathering feedback from students, including the Start, Stop, Continue questions.

Cite this resource: Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (2020). Early and Mid-Semester Student Feedback. Columbia University. Retrieved [today’s date] from https://ctl.columbia.edu/resources-and-technology/resources/student-feedback/

Start, Stop, Continue

One of the simplest and most effective feedback approaches for collecting early or mid-semester feedback is the Start, Stop, Continue method. This is a simple three-question survey that you can add to an existing survey or administer on its own. The method asks students what you can Start, Stop, and Continue doing based on what is and is not supporting their learning:

    1. What can we start doing in this class that would help you learn?
    2. Is there anything we should stop doing that isn’t helping you learn? If so, please explain.
    3. What should we continue doing that is helping you learn?

The wording that focuses students on their learning is an important signal that this isn’t an evaluation of your teaching, and it provides students with an opportunity to reflect on their learning. The CTL recommends collecting this kind of feedback early in the semester (e.g., third or fourth week in a fourteen-week semester, second week in a six-week semester), especially if you are teaching a new course. Student data on this topic from other institutions suggests that students prefer to provide feedback before they hand in their first major assignment or take their first test.

Once data is collected, it is important to review, summarize, and share the data with students. In order to use this data successfully, the instructor should:

    1. Summarize the feedback.
    2. In the next class meeting, thank the students and report back what the feedback said.
    3. Discuss with students what changes you plan to make, those you are considering, and explain any changes that you cannot make. Such clarification is especially important for TAs, who are often unable to make changes to the course materials or policies.

This process can be repeated after the first major test or assignment as a means of checking in again.

Sample Question Bank1

The CTL has created an Early and Mid-Semester Feedback Question Bank for Columbia instructors and TAs to adapt for their own courses. This question bank includes the following sections:

    1. Start, Stop, Continue questions
    2. Course modality (e.g., hyflex, hybrid, online/remote)
    3. General student experience, including experience of technology
    4. Problem-solving or laboratory courses
    5. Discussion-based courses
    6. Team or group work
    7. Questions about student participation
    8. Overall qualitative feedback

Contact the CTL

The CTL is happy to consult with instructors at any stage of the feedback process: collecting the student feedback, analyzing the data, or responding to it in class. To set up a consultation, faculty can contact the Faculty Programs and Services team at CTLFaculty@columbia.edu, and graduate student instructors or TAs can contact CTLgrads@columbia.edu.

  1. Questions related to modality were adapted from Stanford’s recommended questions for evaluating remote/online learning. The remaining questions were adapted from the Princeton McGraw Center’s Mid-Term Evaluation resource and A Guidebook for University of Michigan Graduate Student Instructors, 6th ed., Beverly Black and Matthew Kaplan, Eds., Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, 1997.