Mid-course evaluations

Mid-course evaluations, typically conducted between weeks 4 and 7 for regularly scheduled courses, allow you to receive feedback about the course while you are still able to make adjustments. Consider engaging your students in dialogue about teaching and learning by sharing the feedback you receive.

Why do mid-course evaluations?

  • Instructors have reported that inviting students’ feedback during the term is helpful as it allows them to make in-term adjustments to support students’ learning, clarify areas of confusion early on, and give students a sense of agency in informing the course experience (McGill’s March 2021 Remote Teaching Survey).
  • Students are more likely to recognize the value of course evaluations and thus also complete the MERCURY end-of-course evaluations.

When should mid-course evaluations be done?

  • Mid-course evaluations, typically conducted between weeks 4 and 7 for regularly scheduled courses, allow you to receive feedback about the course while you are still able to make adjustments.
  • Ideally, students will have already received feedback on at least one assignment

How to carry out mid-course evaluations?

Online survey in myCourses Anonymous discussion in myCourses

Instructors can create an anonymous online survey on myCourses. They are easy for students to complete, the comments will be legible, and it is possible to download reports.

Learn more about surveys in myCourses.

Instructors can create an anonymous discussion topic in myCourses. Take note that instructors should select the option to "Allow anonymous posts" when setting up the topic. Instructors should inform their students that in order to send anonymous feedback, they should select the checkbox to "Post as Anonymous" before posting.

Learn more about Discussions in myCourses.

Anonymous polling questions

Instructors can use the Polling @ McGill service to solicit anonymous mid-course evaluation feedback. Polling @ McGill (previously known as clickers) is a technology-supported questioning strategy that allows for both multiple choice and open-ended questions. Please note that each question must be set to anonymous and you should configure your polling session so that results do not display in front of students.

Learn more about Polling @ McGill

One minute paper Student-led discussion

At the end of class, instructors can ask students to pull out a sheet of paper and take one minute to answer a question, such as "What single thing could I change about my teaching that would improve this course for you? " Students then submit their paper to the instructor.

Instructors can also receieve oral feedback from the students as a group (as opposed to individual feedback). To ensure anonymity and allow students to speak freely, instructors leave the class for 10-15 minutes. In large classes, students should split into groups of no more than 20. Each group selects a facilitator and a reporter and discusses constructive suggestions for the instructors (and TAs where applicable) to improve the course. The reporter records the feedback and reports to the instructor immediately after class. We recommend that instructors agree on some guidelines with the students beforehand.

Detailed instructions for small group Instructional diagnosis.

Student-led discussion (with facilitation by colleague)

Instructors can receive oral feedback from the students as a group with a colleague’s assistance, which involves three main steps:

1. Plan the session: Identify questions or concerns about your course that you would like to invite feedback on from students (see these sample questions for inspiration). Find a colleague from another faculty or unit who is willing to facilitate a feedback session and who is not involved in assigning grades for your course. Meet with the colleague to discuss the questions or concerns you have identified.
2. Conduct the guided mid-course evaluation: Have the colleague visit your course midway through the term, for about 30 minutes. Introduce your colleague to the students. Leave the classroom, and your colleague will share feedback questions with the students based on your planning discussion. Students work in groups, sharing their perspectives and writing responses to the questions. Every group contributes one suggestion to a full class discussion facilitated by your colleague. The groups then submit their written responses to your colleague as well. Your colleague summarizes the feedback after the class.
3. Debrief the feedback received: Meet with your colleague to discuss the summarized feedback. Decide which feedback you will act on and which feedback you will not act on. Be prepared to explain your rationale to the students. Share with the students what you learned from their feedback, the changes you will make as a result, and why.

(Strategy shared by instructor Jovan Nedić, Faculty of Engineering, and Academic Associate Maria Orjuela-Laverde, Teaching and Learning Services, at McGill’s Large Class Teaching Exchange)

What to ask?

  • The focus should be on areas where you are still able and willing to make changes. Questions pertaining to future course offerings should be reserved for Mercury end-of-course evaluations.
  • Mid-course evaluations should not be long and complicated. Three to four questions that address different facets of the course (e.g., content, presentation, learning environment/atmosphere) might be adequate for gathering meaningful feedback.

Sample questions

  1. With regard to your learning, what is the most effective aspect of this course, and why?
  2. What is least effective?
  3. What would you change about the [course/lectures/labs]?
  4. What else would you like to tell me about the [course/lab/studio]?
  5. With regard to your learning, how effective is the course overall? Why?
    NB: Question 5 might include a scale (e.g., 1-5), which may be especially useful for large classes.

How to act on the feedback?

Analyze and reflect

The Comments Analysis Worksheet is intended for instructors and Teaching Assistants to help organize and make sense of student comments.

To help derive the most benefit from the student feedback, we encourage you to discuss them with a trusted colleague, your academic unit head or someone from Teaching and Learning Services (TLS).

Discuss with the students

  • Consider engaging your students in dialogue about teaching and learning by sharing a summary of the feedback you receive.

  • Comments in the on-going discussion board should be referred to in class and discussed as appropriate. This could be in the form of a brief summary of the main points raised by the students and ways in which you plan on addressing them.

  • If you will not be making changes to the course, you should still acknowledge the feedback and briefly explain the reasons for keeping the status quo.

  • Students should feel that their feedback is valued, even if it does not lead to changes.

  • Students should be encouraged to provide follow-up feedback on the end-of-course evaluation (MERCURY).


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