At the end of each semester, students are asked to evaluate the course and the professor using a feedback form. My book, Lean Teaching, describes how I use end-of-semester feedback, and also describes how I collected and used mid-term feedback as well. This feedback has been very helpful over the years in shaping and improving my courses.
But, why must students wait until week 13 to give feedback? Surely they have feedback to give in week 1, week 2, week 3, and so on. By the time students are asked to fill out the survey form at the end of the semester they almost surely forgot 90 percent of the feedback that they could have given. While a few students will give feedback to a professor face-to-face anytime during the course, most students will not do that for fear of retribution. What can be done to improve this situation?
This past summer I added a Google Docs form to all of my course web pages. It is called the “Feedback Anytime Form.” I review the form with students at the start of the semester and ask them to provide me with feedback anytime they think of it. Their input is anonymous and will not be traced back to them. The form is simple. It asks students to identify the course they are taking, the week of the semester to which the feedback applies, and a field to input their feedback in 75 words or less.
What I am looking for a flow of feedback, in addition to the feedback I get (batched) at the end of the semester. I hope gain feedback more frequently so that adjustments to courses can be made in real time. I also hope to capture valuable information that gets lost when feedback is batched. Lastly, I want to further demonstrate to students that I am serious about continuous improvement by asking for and acting upon their feedback.