In this extra post, Professor Tina Harrison, Assistant Principal Academic Standards and Quality Assurance and Professor of Financial Services Marketing and Consumption, and Nichola Kett, Head of Quality Assurance and Enhancement Team in Academic Services, explain the importance of mid-course feedback for both staff and students, and present findings from a recent evaluation to determine the effectiveness of mid-course feedback across the University, as well as providing tips on how to conduct this type of feedback…
As the name suggests, mid-course feedback is feedback provided by students and responded to by staff while a course is running. Such feedback is crucial for:
- Promoting constructive dialogue between staff and students at an early stage;
- Allowing staff to identify and respond to student concerns about a course in a timely way (ideally in a way that resolves the matter for the current cohort);
- Providing staff with an opportunity to explain to students why the course is structured in the way it is, and outlining changes that have evolved in response to feedback from previous cohorts.
Importantly, existing students on the course can benefit from any actions that may be taken, which helps to reinforce to students the value of giving feedback. Of course, all of this contributes to the ongoing enhancement of the quality of the educational experience for students.
As a University community, we have decided that all undergraduate courses that run for 10 weeks or longer must collect and respond to feedback from students mid-way through the course.
Mid-course feedback only needs to be gathered once per course. So, for a course running over one semester, the feedback is likely to be gathered in the middle of the semester. However, for a course running over 2 semesters, it is likely to be gathered at the end of semester 1.
Schools are free to determine the best way to gather feedback and the most appropriate point in the course to do so, but may wish to discuss options or co-design approaches with students.
Experience of Mid-Course Feedback
We have evaluated the effectiveness of mid-course feedback over the last two academic years, via an online survey of undergraduate Course Organisers and through consultation with Schools. Overall, responses are very positive. Key findings from the most recent evaluation carried out during Semester 2, 2019 are that:
- Use of mid-course feedback is high: 87.5% of the 424 Course Organisers that responded to the survey reported using mid-course feedback in their 2018/19 courses.
- Mid-course feedback is valued by staff: 78% of respondents considered mid-course feedback to be useful.
- Postcards, or other paper-based approaches, are the most popular method for gathering feedback.
- Most issues identified through feedback are being resolved within the course timeframe and typically communicated to students in class.
- Mid-course feedback highlights issues that Course Organisers would otherwise have been unaware of.
- Where mid-course feedback is not being used, this is primarily due to confusion and lack of perceived value; there is some lack of clarity about the way in which mid-course feedback relates to other student voice mechanisms.
In response to the findings of the evaluation, the following next steps have been agreed by Senate Learning and Teaching Committee and Quality Assurance Committee:
- Mid-course feedback will be introduced for taught postgraduate courses.
It will be encouraged from September 2019 with a view to adding it to policy for 2020/21. Colleges will be consulted about the introduction, and colleagues will be given time to adjust and put appropriate systems in place.
- Guidance on what constitutes mid-course feedback will be produced.
This will outline ways of gathering and responding to feedback, making it clear that there is flexibility to use and respond to feedback in the way that works best for the school.
Looking for inspiration on how to conduct Mid-Course Feedback?
- 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.
- 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 webpage.
And you can read other Teaching Matters blog posts on mid-course feedback here:
- Creating space for dialogue with mid-course feedback, by Professor Susan Rhind.
- Assessing tutorial participation through reflective practice, by Dr Lawrence Dritsas.
- Mid-semester feedback from students and a more bespoke learning experience, by Patrick Garratt.