Midterm Course Reflections

The midterm course reflection is a simple survey that asks students two questions:

  • What is working well for you in the course so far, and why do you find it helpful?
  • Is there anything in the course that you feel is not working well for you so far? If so, is there anything I might do to assist you in addressing this concern?

In AY 2020-2021, all faculty were required to use the midterm reflection in their courses. The use of the midterm reflection is now optional.

The resources below are provided for those faculty who wish to continue to use this reflection in their courses. The midterm reflection is designed to be administered as a Google Form, with student responses automatically collected in a Google Sheet that is linked to the form. Interested faculty members will need to create a separate Google Form for each of their courses and then share the link to the form with the students in each course.

Context and rationale for using the midterm reflection were provided in this memo from August 2020 (see page 4).

Using Student Responses

  • After reading all of the responses, you should let your class know about common themes, questions, or concerns. Ideally, this should occur within about one week of administering the reflection. Concerns that are raised by a large number of students could be a starting point for a whole class conversation.
  • Some concerns could lead you to make changes to your course, perhaps in collaboration with your students. In other cases, you may wish to preserve certain aspects of the course but may choose to do a little more meta-teaching, explaining how certain components fit with your goals for the course. Students’ concerns may also highlight course components that could benefit from additional scaffolding for students.
  • You should remind students that their responses are anonymous, so you can’t respond to suggestions or concerns individually unless they reach out to you. Invite them to meet with you during office hours if, after debriefing the whole class, they feel that they have questions or would like to discuss anything further.

Best Practices and Resources

  • Before you begin reading the responses, remind yourself that most of us have ingrained emotional responses to receiving feedback. This process is a normal protective response. You may need to take some time to recover after you read something that is triggering for you. This may mean distracting yourself with other tasks or just taking a few deep breaths. One way to help manage emotions and reactive thoughts is to put them on paper as they boil up. For many people, the writing process is a way to allow space for these emotions and thoughts in a way that allows you to observe and value them.
  • Focus on common themes, as opposed to one-off comments, and categorize them as: things you can change this semester (e.g. when you post assignments relative to the due date), things that must wait until the next time the course is offered (e.g. the textbook), or things that you either cannot or, for pedagogical reasons, will not change.
  • Share your summary with a colleague to see if your conclusions seem credible. Or you could ask a colleague to independently analyze your students’ responses to see if your conclusions are reliable.
  • Make time in class to follow up with your students. Gathering student feedback during the semester without following up can have a negative impact on student experience and classroom atmosphere, and could also influence their end-of-semester feedback.

For more guidance on analyzing your students’ responses, see this recording of the workshop Making Meaning of Qualitative Data, facilitated by Dr. Stacy Jacob at Allegheny College in September 2020.

Midterm Reflection Set Up and Administration

Creating the Form

  • Open the Midterm Course Reflection form found at this link. Click the “Make a copy” button to create a copy of the form for your own use; the copy will be saved in your Google drive. You will need to create a copy for each of your courses.
  • Rename the form (at top of screen) by replacing “Copy of” with your course name and section. This will help you find the form and responses and will also let your students know they are using the right form. You may also want to move it in a folder specific to your course.

Default Form Settings

  • The form is limited to @allegheny.edu accounts, so students will need to sign in to their Allegheny account to access the form.
  • The form is set to limit 1 response per respondent and to not allow a respondent to edit after submission.
  • The form does not collect student email addresses. In particular, even though students need to log in to their Allegheny account to access the form, the responses that you will see will be anonymous.

Distributing the Form

While in the editable form, click on “Send”. You will then have several options for sharing the form with your students.

  • If you click on the link icon and copy the URL for the form, you could post the URL on Canvas.
  • If you click on the envelope icon and add your students’ email addresses in your course, you can send an e-mail with the form link to all of those students. (See this page for instructions on how to quickly create a contact list for your class from your Self Service roster.)

Do not select the box to automatically collect respondent’s email address. Otherwise, the responses will not be anonymous.

Administering the Reflection

Faculty should allow time during a scheduled class meeting for students to complete the reflection.

When administering the reflection, the instructor should read the preamble of the form to their students. The preamble is provided below:

This reflection is designed for students to provide feedback to faculty about their learning experience up to this point in the semester. The responses will be anonymous. Everyone’s input is valuable because we are all responsible for creating a positive learning environment. Instructors will identify common themes and questions based on the responses. Note that some aspects of a course plan and pedagogy can’t be changed and not all suggestions can be accommodated.

Viewing Responses

To view the responses in a Google sheet, go to the form document, select the “Responses Tab”, and click on the green Google sheet logo. This spreadsheet will be saved in your Google drive in the same folder as the form.

Additional information about working with responses in Google Forms is available on this page, which is part of the Google Forms help center.