Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research

Formative Mid-Semester Instructional Evaluations

A Formative Mid-Semester Instructional Evaluation, sometimes called a Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID), provides an opportunity for instructors to gather structured feedback from their students regarding the functioning of the class and the quality of student learning. What aspects of class are going well? What aspects of class might need improvement? What changes in the course would benefit student learning?

These evaluations typically occur around mid-semester so that instructors may modify their classes to enhance student learning and performance. In addition, CIDER staff conducts these evaluations in order to provide students with increased freedom to express their views, thereby increasing the validity of their responses. Ultimately, these instructional evaluations provide instructors with valuable feedback regarding student perceptions of instruction and learning, while conveying to students the importance that faculty hold for the instructional process.

The Instructional Evaluation Process

The Formative Mid-Semester Instructional Evaluation process involves four steps. Prior to the instructional evaluation itself, a faculty member will need to schedule the instruction evaluation using the online scheduling tool and briefly meet with a member of the CIDER staff to discuss the instructional evaluation process. The instructional evaluation itself involves four processes:

  1. Individual students complete the Individual Feedback form.
  2. Students, in small groups, then discuss their individual feedback, reach consensus, and complete the Group Feedback form.
  3. Students, as a class, then discuss which aspects of the class should be changed to enhance the learning quality of the classes. This information is recorded on the Class Feedback form.
  4. Students, as a class, then rate the importance of the items generated through the Class Feedback, resulting in a prioritized list of desired class changes.

Faculty members must allow 30 minutes of class time to complete the instructional evaluation process. Following the instructional evaluation, the faculty member with meet with the CIDER staff member to discuss the results and receive the Formative Mid-Semester Instructional Evaluation report.

The Evaluation Questions

The Individual and Group Feedback forms address three standard questions:

  1. What aspects of class are working well? What are the strengths of the class? What aspects of the class are having a positive impact on your learning?
  2. What aspects of the class are working poorly? What are the weaknesses of the class? What aspects of the class are having a negative impact on your learning?
  3. What aspects of the class do you believe should be changed? How should these aspects be changed? (Please be as specific as possible.)

Additional questions may be added at the instructor's request; however, the number of questions on the feedback form should not exceed five. Students are provided with 10 minutes in which to complete the Individual Feedback form; thus, it is important to keep the form short and focused.

Anonymity and Confidentiality

Students' responses on the Individual Feedback form are anonymous and confidential. Students are not asked to sign the Individual Feedback form, the instructor will not see these forms, and the forms will be stored safely in the CIDER office. The instructor will, however, receive a typed listing of all feedback provided on the Group Feedback forms. The instructor will not, however, receive the original forms.

In addition, the Formative Mid-Semester Instructional Evaluation itself will be confidential; that is, CIDER will not share with outside entities (e.g., Department Heads, Tenure and Promotion Committees) the existence of or results from the evaluation. The individual faculty member, however, is free to share the existence of the evaluation and the results of the evaluation, as he or she deems necessary.

Reporting the Results of the Instructional Evaluation

Faculty members will receive a formal letter indicating the conduct of the Formative Mid-Semester Instructional Evaluation and a brief summary of the results of the evaluation. In addition, faculty members will receive a detailed and typed listing of the Group Feedback comments and a summary of these comments. Typically, the faculty member will receive the evaluation results within three days of the conduct of the evaluation.

Using the Instructional Evaluation

The Formative Mid-Semester Instructional Evaluation is designed to collect data regarding student perceptions of instructor performance and student learning in order to modify the course, as necessary, to enhance the learning experience for students. To maximize the beneficial effects of the evaluation, the instructor should (a) reflect on the information contained in the evaluation, (b) construct a specific set of course changes that address the recommendations in the evaluation, (c) discuss the proposed changes with the class, and (d) make the agreed upon changes. Discussing the results of the evaluation and the proposed changes with the class is important as it validates for the students the importance that the instructor places on learning and provides an opportunity for the faculty member to discuss the conduct of the course.

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