In this post, Professor Tina Harrison, Assistant Principal Academic Standards reflects on the value of mid-course feedback, provides a reminder of policy and guidance available, and explains its place amongst other student voice mechanisms…
As outlined in the ‘What is mid-course feedback?’ Teaching Matters blog post, mid-course feedback is feedback provided by students and responded to by staff while a course is running. It promotes constructive dialogue between staff and students; allows staff to respond to feedback in a timely way; and enables staff to explain to students why a course is structured the way it is, including how it has been shaped by feedback from previous students.
THE VALUE OF MID-COURSE FEEDBACK
We know from evaluations of mid-course feedback that it is valued by staff and students. But what exactly do staff and students value about it? Professor Susan Rhind (Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies), comments:
In my role as Director of Teaching, I repeatedly hear comments from course organisers about the value of mid-course feedback. It is common for issues that staff would otherwise be unaware of through more formal mechanism to be surfaced, and even when there are no surprises, the more discursive methodology provides a great space for constructive (and enjoyable!) staff and student conversation.
Dr Emily Taylor (Health in Social Science) notes students value being listened to:
Mid-course feedback is invaluable for ‘taking the temperature’ of the class. Students value being listened to and it’s a rare opportunity for them to benefit directly from changes you are able to implement there and then. Getting positive feedback is a real boost for you and tutors on the course too.
At a joint meeting of the Directors of Teaching and Directors of Quality in October 2019, Professor Susan Rhind, Professor Iain Gordon (School of Mathematics), and Dr Emily Taylor shared their approaches to mid-course feedback, outlining the different ways in which they were inviting feedback from students and how they were responding to the comments received.
I have been using mid-course feedback in my own honours course for the last few years and find that there are always some small changes that I can make that make a big difference to students. This year, the mid-course feedback highlighted that students were feeling anxious about the upcoming group project, which led me to spend a bit more time explaining it and building in more support for students along the way. I was really pleased to see in the course enhancement survey that students had valued the support that was given.
I held several student focus groups in November 2019 as part of our preparations for the forthcoming Enhancement-led Institutional Review, and was really pleased to hear, unprompted, from students that they saw mid-course feedback as something positive that we do.
POLICY, GUIDANCE AND FURTHER EXAMPLES
As a reminder, the current policy is that mid-course feedback should be carried out for all undergraduate courses that run for 10 weeks or longer. Schools are free to determine the best way to gather and respond to feedback.
Mid-course feedback for postgraduate taught courses is already carried out in many schools. Following consultation with staff and students, it is being encouraged throughout this academic year and will become a requirement for all taught postgraduate courses that run for 10 weeks or longer from academic session 2020/21.
• Advice and resources (including examples) to help staff collect mid-course feedback from students can be found on the Institute for Academic Development’s website.
• Guidance can be found on the Academic Services website.
• Background information and examples for students can be found on the Student Voice webpage.
• A good practice resource for staff on closing the loop on student feedback can be found on the Academic Services website.
If you have an example of how mid-course feedback is carried out to share, please contact Dr Neil Lent (firstname.lastname@example.org).
STUDENT VOICE MECHANISMS
Mid-course feedback is one of many ways we gather and respond to student voices. Ongoing mechanisms, including the student representation system, work alongside periodic mechanisms such as surveys. A student guide to giving feedback has been developed which illustrates the different student voice mechanisms and how they relate to each other. It is available on the student voice website: