Midterm is Nigh…

WAT..And I’m still forgetting to write “2016” on documents. I’m not sure that I’m emotionally ready for midterm, but it’ll be here in the next couple of weeks whether any of us are ready or not. And with midterm comes an opportunity for our students and for us to take stock of where we are, where we’re going, and if we’re doing what we need to get there effectively. We’ve internalized midterm-as-assessment for our students; most of us have a midterm exam or project, and we all report midterm low grades. We use midterm as a benchmark for our students–as well we should.

But what about ourselves? What about not just students’ progress, but the progress of the course itself? These are related, but not necessarily identical, categories. And midterm assessments can be an excellent way for us to gather feedback and data to discern whether or not our courses and our pedagogy are moving students towards the goals we’ve established for our courses. One way to do this is to gather midterm feedback from students. In addition to the insights that feedback can give us, research has demonstrated the the act of soliciting and incorporating midterm feedback correlates with higher student ratings of the course at the end of the semester.

The process need not be time-consuming nor highly formalized, though I recommend some structured questions and an opportunity for students to provide (anonymous–always anonymous!) feedback during class time, in order to ensure a high response rate. Some suggestions for that type of structure and some sample questions can be found on this excellent resources page from Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching, and this one from University of Michigan.

For a more intentional effort to gather what can potentially be very powerful and useful feedback, consider the awkwardly-named but very effective Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID). SGIDs involve a trained facilitator from CETL leading your students through a highly-structured guided reflection on their learning and their own contributions to the class and its work (done without the faculty member present). Then, the facilitator analyzes the feedback, organizes it, and meets with the instructor to go over the results and discuss next steps. (You can find some descriptions of the process as it’s used at other schools here and here.) All SGID information is confidential; only the facilitator and instructor see it, and it’s not used for any other purpose than this type of formative assessment. This is a great tool to gather meaningful feedback and improve student learning, and we’d love to help you use it. Contact us to set up a SGID for one of your classes!

Whichever method you use, though, the important thing to remember is that ours is reflective practice. Gathering, assessing, and acting upon midterm feedback is an excellent opportunity to reflect on what we’re doing and consider both the successes and areas where we might improve. If you’re interested in any of these methods, or would like to talk more about how to incorporate midterm feedback into your teaching, come by CETL. We’d be delighted to help!

Don’t forget: Conversations on Technology this MONDAY, Feb. 15!

Come learn about the ways in which Blackboard and Mobile Technology are impacting student learning, and strategies that you can use to take advantage of their possibilities!

4:00 PM in Rasmussen 217. Tasty snacks and stimulating conversations about teaching and learning. Come join us!

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