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Mid-Term Teaching Evaluations

It’s almost midterm, a time to gauge just how well our students are learning the material we are teaching them.  But what about our performance?  Who is evaluating how we are doing, if we’re being effective, or if students are learning?  Mid-term teaching evaluations can be a wonderful tool to gauge how students are perceiving the course, the material, and our teaching.

By conducting mid-term teaching evaluations, you have the students’ perspective once they’ve experienced enough of the course to provide constructive feedback, but while there is still enough time in the course to make some substantive changes (if needed). Learning about a potential problem can have long-term results for you and for your students.  For students, a mid-term evaluation can provide an outlet for simmering frustrations that you could possibly change.  On the other hand, you have the opportunity to find out what is working well in a course (so you can build on that positive feedback).

According to Stanford University’s Center for Teaching and Learning (Tomorrow’s Professor mailing list by Rick Reis), many faculty who use mid-term teaching evaluations also receive higher end-of-term evaluations.

Mid-term evaluations don’t have to be complicated or time consuming.  They can also provide more information than some end-of-term Likert-scale evaluations that provide percentages but no commentary.  To avoid these issues, many educators find the SGID (Small Group Instructional Diagnosis) useful.  SGID is a structured mid-term interview of a class, and this interview provides specific feedback on what the students like about a course, what they feel needs improvement, and their ideas on how to carry out the improvement.  SGID can also ask students about their own responsibility for learning in a course.  A professional from a center for teaching and learning on your campus can administer the SGID, or you might have a colleague interview your students.  The National Teaching and Learning Forum provides a lot of very helpful information about SGID.

If you wanted an often easier method of gaining mid-term feedback on your courses, you can use the survey function built in within many course management systems.  You could even create your own evaluation (using such questions as those provided by the McGraw Center at Yale ) on an on-line survey program (Survey Monkey, for example).

What are your thoughts or experiences on mid-term teaching evaluations?   Any cautionary tales or helpful hints?  Please leave them in comments below.

(Image by flickr user that blonde girl.  Licensed through Creative Commons.)

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