Want to know how your class is going? Ask your students

A guide to what, when and how to ask your students for feedback on your course in order to inform improvements to your teaching


10 Jul 2023
bookmark plus
  • Top of page
  • Main text
  • More on this topic
bookmark plus
A student raising a hand with a question in class

Created in partnership with

Created in partnership with

University of Colorado Boulder

You may also like

Why and how to gather ongoing student feedback right from the start
Ask your students for feedback right from the start of your online course

Getting feedback from your students throughout the semester provides you with multiple checks on the student experience and helps you to determine how to adjust your course to better meet their needs. A two-way communication channel about what is and is not working can help you to connect with your students and create a positive classroom climate.

The mid-point of the semester is a critical time for continued student success. While studies have shown that student ratings might not correlate with learning and success in future courses, mid-term student feedback overcomes many challenges and offers several benefits:

  • Valuable feedback from students while there is still time to make changes;
  • Improved student learning, enjoyment, course ratings;
  • Students see you as a human being who cares about their learning;
  • Students get a voice in your course and a chance to reflect on their own learning.

Below are some best practices on conducting a mid-semester feedback session:

  • Keep the questionnaire simple, to between three and five questions;
  • The questionnaire can be administered online or in class (if in class, make sure you leave the room while students complete the questionnaire);
  • Emphasise that you are looking for suggestions for improving the course and that student feedback is valued.

So what is useful to know?

You might ask students to reflect on the structure or content of the course, learning activities, assignments or strategies to improve their experience. Maybe you are trying something new and want to know if it is working. Or perhaps you have a huge course enrolment or are teaching remotely and do not have much opportunity for interaction. Some questions you might ask:

  1. What are three things you have learned in the class so far? What is one thing you have you learned in class that you did not expect to learn?
  2. Is there something you want to learn that is not on the syllabus?
  3. In what ways has this course helped you to learn? What would help you to learn better?
  4. What have you done so far that has helped you to learn? What could you do differently for the rest of the term that will help you to learn better?
  5. What seems challenging about completing the work for this class?
  6. What worries you about this class? What might help you feel more confident?
  7. What questions do you have about the course that I can answer for you and other students?

What are some ways to get mid-term feedback?

  • Use the Zoom polling feature. You can post simple questions with multiple-choice responses. Zoom offers several options for engaging students in addition to the polling feature;
  • Ask students to respond to an anonymous survey. Google Forms is quick, user-friendly and free to use for collecting responses from students;
  • Create an ungraded survey using the Quizzes tool in Canvas or your equivalent learning-management system (LMS);
  • Hold small group discussions. Create a set of questions and ask students to choose a scribe who will take notes on the discussion and share them with you. You could also set up an asynchronous discussion using the discussions tool in Canvas or equivalent LMS;
  • If it proves difficult to get students to provide feedback, you could ask a graduate teaching assistant or learning assistant to share information that they get from students or ask them to host a feedback session. 

Here are a few suggestions to help you move from simple data collection to transformative teaching and learning experiences:

  • Focus on solutions – attainable within timeframe;
  • Recommend alternatives for important concerns beyond the scope of the mid-term student feedback;
  • Reinforce that students are responsible for learning;
  • Use reflective listening to clarify students’ comments and to bring them back to learning issues;
  • Encourage students to continue their dialogue with you as their instructor.

In addition, how might you include feedback questions specific to inclusion and identifying any blind spots you might have? The Colorado Department of Higher Education provides a checklist for reflecting on your own practice so you can use elements of this inclusive teaching strategies questionnaire to tailor your own questions.

This article was originally published by the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Feedback to Inform Your Teaching.

Stephanie Foster is director of assessment and Kalpana Gupta is an assistant professor in the adult education and training program, both at Colorado State University.

If you would like advice and insight from academics and university staff delivered direct to your inbox each week, sign up for the Campus newsletter.


You may also like

sticky sign up

Register for free

and unlock a host of features on the THE site