Teaching feedback tools

There are a number of approaches instructors can take to gain meaningful and insightful feedback from their students. Beyond end of term course surveys, this section provides a list of other feedback tools.

Mid-semester survey

Why wait until the end of the semester to gain feedback from your students?  Mid-semester surveys are a great way to informally gather information on how the course is progressing. A common framework used in this method is “Continue – Stop – Start” where the questions are framed in terms of which practices should be retained (“continue”), removed (“stop”), and added (“start”).  For example:

1.      What is the instructor doing that is helping your learning?

2.      What do you wish the instructor would stop doing?

3.      What do you think the instructor could start doing that would help you learn better?

Using this framework, you can receive practical feedback and make changes throughout the semester - before the end of term course survey. Prior to releasing the survey to your students, please ensure that you have selected an anonymous survey and informed the students. 

There are several software applications that can help you deploy a survey, click here for more information.

Student learning reflections

Frequent student learning reflections (i.e. weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.) are a great way to engage your class, while simultaneously gaining useful feedback. You can ask students to reflect on the course material and articulate their concerns. Instructors can then monitor the progress of their course, identify problematic areas, and make adjustments on-the-fly. If performed frequently, a reciprocal relationship develops between the student body and the instructor, where each is working to improve the overall outcome of the course.

Focus groups

The main purpose of a focus group is to delve into the perceptions, opinion, beliefs, and attitudes students hold towards the class material, class structure, and instruction. Students are typically more amenable to the interactive and collegial atmosphere of these groups. However, the instructor must make a concerted effort to ensure the discussions remain on topic and civil. Alternatively, ask your Educational Consultant to conduct the session and provide you with thematic feedback.  Students may feel more comfortable providing feedback in the instructor's absence.

Student liaison(s)

Alternatively, one or more students can be selected to act as representatives for the class. Their task is to gather feedback from their peers on the course and instruction, and then relay this information back to the instructor. This process allows individuals to remain anonymous. The liaisoning student can prioritize the concerns of the group, allowing the instructor to receive feedback in an efficient and organized way.

Discussion forum

Instructors can also utilize the Canvas system to set up online discussion forums. These forums are a great avenue for students to discuss the course content, instruction, or other topics of interest. The role of the instructor is to promote these forums as a means for students to have peer-to-peer interaction. Each discussion board can have a specific topic or directive. In setting up a discussion board, it is important to ensure genuine engagement. Instructors can emphasize the importance of contributing, offer bonus marks for frequent posts, or develop other incentives. Unfortunately, the participants are unable to post anonymously, which reduces the likelihood of uninhibited feedback. 

Speak with an Educational Developer at CEE

The Centre for Educational Excellence (CEE)  provides support to instructors in several ways. They can suggest various techniques of engaging students to enhance their learning experience.  Educational Developers can also be invited to visit a class several times during the term to observe and provide tailored feedback. This can help instructors identify what is working well, what could be improved as the course progresses, and possible areas of concern.  Just click the BBB (Big Blue Button) here.


You can ask a colleague to sit in on your class and make observations.   Peer-reviews from an instructor in your discipline can provide valuable insight from a disciplinary point of view. Alternatively, an instructor who uses similar teaching methods as yours will be able to comment on their effectiveness and efficiency.