Guide To Teaching and Learning

Formative and Summative Assessments

Continuous Student Feedback for Faculty

It can be as simple as three questions:

  • What’s working well? 
  • What challenges are you experiencing?
  • What could change to make it better? 

The research is clear: regular feedback and opportunities to use that feedback enhance performance and achievement. This is true for your students in their learning process and it’s true for you as their professor. In this online environment where it’s even harder for faculty to gauge student attention in synchronous courses or connect with students asynchronously, frequent feedback from students is even more crucial, and will make your teaching experience and their learning deeper and more satisfying. And easier. This document will share a number of ways to gather feedback from students. 

Best practices

Following a few guidelines when soliciting feedback will make students more likely to respond and the feedback more useful for all.

  • Explain why you’re soliciting feedback
    • This ties in with transparent teaching- explaining why you’re doing something makes students more likely to respond. When they know you’re hoping to improve your teaching for them they will be more inclined to respond thoughtfully. 
  • Anonymity
    • It’s hard to give honest and effective feedback. When we are confident that our responses will be anonymous we’re more likely to be honest. 
  • Ask the right questions and request better feedback
    • “You’re a nice teacher.” “The course is going fine.” Not very helpful, is it? Just as we encourage you with assignments to show concrete examples of what constitutes a strong assignment, give concrete examples of the kind of feedback you’re looking for.
    • Start with more general questions and progress to more specific
    • Keep it short.
    • Consider open-ended questions that generate dialogue versus yes or no questions. 
    •  “I appreciate it when you ask us to share our “muddiest point” at the end of a module. It makes me feel like it’s ok that I don’t really understand something and then I know you’re open to respond to my questions without my feeling judged.” “Sometimes the camera only shows your face from the nose up and it’s kind of distracting.” “You have misgendered my classmate on multiple occasions and it makes me feel uncomfortable.” 
  • Beginning or middle is better than the end
    • Students are more likely to fill out a feedback questionnaire at the beginning or middle of a synchronous course, or even the beginning or middle of an asynchronous module versus at the end.  
  • Course Correction
    • Process the responses you received with the class ,let them know how to you will adjust and then follow through.  If some of the comments are related to things out of your control let them know that. This lets students know their time and thoughtfulness in providing the feedback was worth their while, and makes everyone more likely to engage in future iterations of the feedback cycle. 

Easiest Route: New School-Created Feedback Forms
Accessible here

How to Ask for Feedback of your teaching:

How you frame a question will impact the response.  Asking for feedback in ways that are evidence based and thoughtful will get you more meaningful responses.  

  • Stop, Start, Continue

It’s simple: Ask students, three questions, ideally through an anonymous survey: Please tell me anything I should stop doing, start doing and continue doing? 

  • Fast Feedback

Want fast feedback on some basics such as whether or not students are following you and feel like you are encouraging participation? Check out this Fast Feedback Questionnaire from York College. 

  • Get Back to the Basics

If you’re holding synchronous courses or making videos, ask: Can you hear me clearly? If not, what are the problems? (volume/microphone not picking up my voice, accent, background noise gets in the way, etc.) 

Do I answer questions effectively? If not, can you provide examples?

Can you follow the flow of the class? If not, what is the problem?

  • Center Equity and Inclusion

There are many questions you can ask here, and more open-ended questions may be the way to go, after a few simple closed-ended questions: 

Have I referred to students by their preferred names, pronounced your name correctly and used everyone’s correct pronouns? 

Have I made space for all student voices to be heard?

Has my syllabus been inclusive, and if not have I addressed why? 

Consider something in your own words: I value facilitating a course where all students have what they need to be successful, where they see themselves represented in the content and process of the class and where they see clear paths for success, which is a combination of meeting the learning outcomes of the course along with more individualized definitions of success. What suggestions do you have for how I can better center equity and inclusion in this course?

Platforms to collect anonymous student feedback:

Due to many factors including faculty being responsible for students’ grades, cultural norms, personalities, etc., students may not feel comfortable providing you with direct feedback attached to their identifying information. Anonymous feedback is highly encouraged. 

  • Google forms
  • Poll everywhere
  • Free Suggestion Box
  • Survey Monkey
  • Too Fast for Educators
  • Qualtrics available from the apps locker at
  • We do not recommend using Canvas for anonymous feedback. Although you can set responses to anonymous, you can then as the faculty revert it and see who said what. This can breed mistrust and make students less likely to continue to engage openly. 

Student Learning: An Assessment of Your Teaching: 

Did they get it? Don’t wait for major assignments to see how well your students are learning core course concepts.  Below are quick, easy, low stakes ways to gauge student learning more frequently. (Adapted from Princeton’s McGraw Center and Angelo, Thomas A. and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993.)

  • SWOT analysis
    SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A common practice in business, introducing this concept to our students helps us understand what may get in the way of their learning so we can accommodate accordingly. It also supports metacognition, students’ understanding of themselves as learners. Consider this video that introduces the concept and this template for individualized SWOT analyses.
  • Getting to Know You
    Lang Professor Katayoun Chamany introduces herself and the rationale for this questionnaire before sharing it with students.  It helps her get a sense of her students’ needs and helps students advocate for themselves and begging to think metacognitively about themselves as learners and how their identities and beliefs impact their engagement in their courses. Here is her example. 
  • One Minute Paper 
    Administer a “one-minute paper” at the end of a class, a reading, the end of a video or slideshow of content you’ve prepared for them, or the end of an asynchronous module. Ask your students to write a response to a specific question, describe the most important idea they learned in that class, reading, module, or identify a question that remains unanswered.
  • Muddiest Point
    At the end of class or end of the week’s module, ask students to identify the “muddiest point” from a lecture or discussion.
  • Key Terms and Concepts
    Ask students to write a short definition of a key term at the beginning and end of a class or module. Or ask students to draw a concept or create an Instagram post or meme that represents this concept both at the beginning and then the end of the module. 
  • Lists
    Instruct students to write a short list of pros and cons, costs or benefits, or advantages or disadvantages for making a particular choice or decision.
  • One Sentence Summary
    Assign a “one-sentence summary” of a particular argument or concept at the end of class or end of the module, or consider making it a tweet.
  • Make Connections
    Ask students to connect general principles and specific examples, or underlying concepts and specific problems from a short list. 
  • Journal Assignments
    Get students to reflect.
    Consider this prompt at the beginning of your course: Describe a class that went badly and why it went badly. Describe a class that went well and why it went well. 
    Lang Professor Katayoun Chamany shares thoughtful examples she uses for journal assignments
  • Taking it to the Next Step
    If your course topic is more theoretical ask students to think of a real world application of what was learned in a class.  
  • Assignment Assessment
    Ask for an assessment of a particular assignment, for example: How well did the group project on X help you learn? How could the assignment be improved? 

“Decades of education research support the idea that by teaching less and providing more feedback, we can produce greater learning (see Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000; Hattie, 2008; Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001).” Source

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