The Office of Faculty Development

Collecting Student Feedback

We are all familiar with the university system for collecting student feedback about our teaching, but this is typically given to us after the semester is over when we can no longer act on it. Collecting student feedback throughout the semester can be a valuable tool. It allows us as teachers to see where students are in their knowledge, what is sticking, and what content may need a refreshes. It also gives students agency over the course if you implement suggested changes or improvements - they become part of building the community of the course. Even a mid-semester “check in” can allow students to be part of the decision making in class. This also helps you learn about your students and meet them where they are - adding flexibility and choice can enrich learning. 

From industry to higher education, “continuous quality improvement” is key to identifying what is working and what is not so we can improve our processes and practices. In the higher education setting, gathering feedback and using it to assess teaching effectiveness can go a long way toward improving the learning experience for our students and their ability to reach a course’s learning outcomes. It can also help identify your teaching strengths and weaknesses so you are able to better focus your professional development efforts, help you prepare for formal performance reviews, and ultimately help assess your readiness to apply for promotion opportunities (Penn State).


    Hurney, C., Harris, N., Bates Prins, S., & Kruck, S. E. (2014). The impact of a learner-centered, mid-semester course evaluation on students. New Forums Press28(3), 55-62. (PDF)

    Flodén, J. (2017). The impact of student feedback on teaching in higher education. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education42(7), 1054–1068. in new window)

    Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE bulletin3, 7. (PDF)

    Lewis, K. G. (2001). Using Midsemester Student Feedback and Responding to It. New Directions for Teaching and Learning2001(87), 33–44. in new window)

    Stark, P., & Freishtat, R. (2014). An Evaluation of Course Evaluations. ScienceOpen Research. in new window)


    As the direct audience for your course, students are uniquely qualified to provide feedback on how effective the learning environment is in supporting their learning. Questions such as “What aspects of the course and/or instruction helped you learn?” and “What aspects might be changed to help future students learn more effectively in this course?” can elicit valuable insights. (Penn State(opens in new window))

    The following ideas can be done utilizing Canvas or time in class. 

    Mid-Semester Survey: This can be done around the mid-semester mark. Ask students what is working for them and not working for them in the class. What do they like about the course organization, presentation of ideas, and material? What would they change? What suggestions do they have? Some may be easily implemented and some may take time, but even the smallest change may have a big impact for your students. This survey can be done anonymously on Canvas, a quick write in class, or a large group discussion depending on the classroom community you have built. 

    Week 5 and Week 10 Check In: You can use this type of feedback for both the course content (what makes sense and what is confusing?) or the class structure/organization (what is working for you in terms of deadlines, organization and implementation of assignments/quizzes?). Doing a check in twice in the semester allows you to see what has changed or improved from one check in to the next. 

    Weekly Content Check Ins: If you are looking for feedback related to how the students are absorbing and learning concepts in your course, you could start each week with a short survey. Ask questions like “In your own words, tell me how you understand ____” or “What was the muddies part of the lecture on _____?” You could also have students reflect on how useful a specific type of activity or assignment was, and what was most confusing that day/week. These can be done quickly at the beginning or end of class using note cards, Canvas surveys or even group discussions.