What to consider

Reflection is essential to your continued growth as a teacher. Although you can infer which activities, lessons, discussions, etc., were most beneficial for learning, soliciting your students’ perspectives can help you make improvements both to your course and to your own practice.

Gathering and analyzing student feedback allows you to learn about how your students are experiencing the course and demonstrates to students that their opinions are valued and important to you. In the remote teaching environment, it is harder to gather the immediate feedback that instructors receive in face-to-face environments, such as visual cues of understanding (nods, smiles, etc.). However, there are other ways to gather feedback about both immediate and future needs. The type of feedback you solicit will depend on your answers to the following questions:

  1. What are the core concepts of the course that students might be struggling with?
    Identifying these threshold concepts and gathering information on student understanding will help you scaffold their learning throughout the course.
  2. What aspects of the course are you willing to change?
    Not all course elements can be changed during the term, but asking students for their input on those that you are willing or able to change could inform how you proceed.
  3. What kind of feedback will best inform your teaching?
    Quantitative feedback will give you summary statistics, whereas qualitative feedback will give you richer information. Anonymous feedback could yield more honest responses, whereas named feedback can reveal which students you may want to reach out to.

What are the options?

Find out which technologies and levels of access your students have so that you can prepare appropriately. Use SFU’s licensed SurveyMonkey or WebSurvey tools to create in-depth surveys or use the Canvas Quiz tool, which can allow for anonymous surveys through the “Graded Survey” or “Ungraded Survey” functions. Instructors at Rutgers University developed this template of possible questions.

Minute papers are useful to gauge “muddy points” and identify where students are in their understanding at key points throughout the term.

For synchronous classes, both Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Zoom will allow you to pre-program polls to get immediate quantitative data.

Mentimeter is a popular (and free) online response-gathering system that allows you to ask a variety of questions and gather qualitative data.

SFU’s end-of-term online course evaluations (SETC program) are one option for collecting, analyzing and reflecting on student feedback about your teaching and course. SETC resources can help you collect feedback using different methods and timepoints in the semester.

To research specific aspects of your course and how they impact student learning, you may apply for a Teaching and Learning Development Grant to take a deeper dive with an inquiry approach.

Additional resources