Mid-semester evaluations can come in a number of formats including one or two survey questions, yes-no questions to specific aspects of the class, or a broader review of the semester in the form of open ended questions. They all, however, allow you the opportunity to see if your students are learning what you want them to learn.
How will mid-semester evaluations help my students’ performance?
Although not explicitly about student’s individual performance, mid-semester evaluations can be made to include questions that ask the students to reflect on their own place in the class.
General mid-semester evaluation questions:
What grade do you expect to earn in this class? On what do you base this expectation? (Do you feel your grade accurately reflects your effort?)
Have you kept up with the reading assignments? Yes/No? If not, approximately what percentage of the readings have you completed?
How much time per week do you devote to this class outside of scheduled class hours?
What would encourage you to participate more?
Lab/science course mid-semester evaluation questions:
Do you feel adequately prepared to complete this lab, based on the lab manual and pre-lab lecture?
How much time did you put into writing the first lab report?
Not only will students have a chance to reflect on the amount of time and quality of effort they have put into class preparation, but you will be able to intervene if the students as a whole are not giving exercises, readings, or lab reports adequate attention. As part of the evaluation, you could discuss the amount of time needed to succeed in the class, encourage them to keep up with the readings as the semester winds down, and suggest ways to participate if they are shy or not comfortable speaking in front of other students.
How can I use evaluations in large classes?
If you teach large lectures or labs, it may be better to ask only one or two questions at the end of class during a few weeks in the middle of the semester. That way, you have more time to read the evaluations and can address particular issues immediately.
What do I do with evaluations after they are completed by the students?
To complete the assessment process, discuss student answers with the class. You do not necessarily need to discuss every concern, but major trends, student fears, or points of immediate and essential intervention. For example:
"This class is too early." "The desk is too small." "The room is so hot!"
Comments like these need not be addressed unless you can do something about the problem. If you have the ability to control the temperature in the room, then feel free to ask them as a group about it. But you cannot control the time of the class or the size of the desks. Focus your attention and energy on those issues and concerns about which you can do something. Issues that can be addressed in the current semester include:
Misunderstandings of readings or course materials;
Students falling behind in the material;
Volume issues with your voice, the microphone, or visual issues with blackboard writing;
Changing habits that interfere with your teaching (jiggling the change in your pocket, saying “ummm” between every sentence, not making eye contact, reading verbatim the PowerPoints rather than using them for illustrative purposes, etc.).
These kinds of issues can, and should, be addressed. When you discuss the mid-semester evaluation with your students, let them know what you can change for the remainder of the semester. If there are things that you cannot or will not change, let them know the reasons behind your choice.
If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for new assessment strategies, please contact us.
Bibliography and Additional Resources
Harris, Michael and Roxanne Cullen. 2007. “Civic Engagement and Curricular Reform.” The National Teaching & Learning Forum. 16(4): 4-6).
Nuhfer, Edward B. 2007. “Assessment of Content Learning: Knowledge Surveys and Concept Inventories and Shulman’s Pillars.” The National Teaching & Learning Forum. 16(3): 8-11.
Shulman, L.S. 2007. “Counting and Recounting: Assessment and the Quest for Accountability.” Change. January/February, 39: 20-25. Available online at http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/ change/sub.asp?key=98&subkey=2169. Accessed 23 October 2008.
Streck, Patrick. 2007. “If You Only Had Your Students For A Week, What Would You Want Them To Learn? (Part II).” The National Teaching & Learning Forum. 16(5): 9-10.