Skip to content
Teaching Strategies

Gathering and Responding to Early Student Feedback

By Kevin Barry

What is early feedback?

Early student feedback is feedback on teaching and student learning experiences that are systematically gathered during the first half of the semester. The ideal time is typically between 3rd and 8th week of the semester – when adjustments based on feedback can have the greatest impact.

Why gather early feedback from students?

 Key reasons for gathering early student feedback include:

  • Students are motivated by the instructor’s concern for their learning. This motivation, along with the additional support that might come from a concerned instructor, can lead to higher levels of achievement” Jacobs, D. et al (2008) & Feldman, K. (1996). 
  • “Research indicates that ongoing formative feedback from students and colleagues is the best way to improve teaching,” National Research Council. (2003).
  • “Faculty who collect midterm feedback and who make changes to improve their teaching on the basis of that feedback see increases in their ratings on the end-of-course evaluations” (Huston, 2009).

How to collect and respond to early student feedback:

There are a variety of ways to gather early feedback (see Angelo & Cross (1993) Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers). Here, we focus on the instructor designed survey.

Write your survey questions

  • If you add your own questions:
    • Ensure that each Likert style question only asks about a single construct (eg. an activity, course characteristic, or instructor characteristic.
    • If there is an aspect of the course you are not willing to justify or change, don’t ask about it on your survey. 
    • Choose/Write questions about specific strategies/methods/activities in your course using the Commonly Used Questions google doc.
      • To create your custom survey, make a copy of the google doc and follow the embedded instructions.
  • Contact to receive feedback on your draft survey.

Administer the survey

  • Electronically to collect data anonymously. 
      • Self-administer (using Canvas Classic Quiz Tool or a Google Form) or
      • Ask the Kaneb Center to administer the survey using ND Qualtrics (confidential; not anonymous)
  • As a paper-based evaluation in class (consider leaving the room to provide anonymity)

Review and Communicate Results to the Class 

  • Look for trends in the results, don’t over-react to outliers (either positive or negative).
  • Discuss results with the Kaneb Center if you’re unsure of how to proceed.
  • Discuss the results of the evaluation with your students – don’t skip this step!
    • Indicate changes that you will make based on their input.
      • Remind them that a change is based on their input if it happens some time after the discussion
    • Explain if there are cases where the results indicate a desire for change but none will be made.
    • Use this as an opportunity to invite further input focused on creating the best learning experience possible.