An ungraded, anonymous mid-semester survey offers students a chance to voice concerns and ask questions about a course and its administration. Surveys of this type can be setup easily in Canvas. Compiled results can fuel a follow-up conversation and/or announcement where the instructor can address student feedback by answering questions and alleviating issues or making plans to do so.
A recent survey in EME 801: Energy Markets, Policy, and Regulation helped the instructor understand that students were generally happy with the course but wanted more clarity surrounding assignments and more specific rubrics. For the remainder of the course, these changes could be implemented right away, satisfying student requests, and previous assignment specifications could be improved for future students. In this case, student feedback was valuable in helping the instructor understand students’ perspectives and perceptions. It also helped instigate positive changes.
The survey in EME 801 asked the following questions:
- Are you generally pleased with the course so far or are you frustrated with some aspects of it? Please explain, briefly and in a constructive manner.
- Have you been able to navigate the course materials without problems? If not, please indicate what would be helpful for a better experience.
- How is the clarity of the course assignments? Do the instructions and rubrics offer enough information? When working on assignments, are you confident that you understand what's asked of you?
- Would a weekly Canvas Announcement reminding you of what to expect for each new lesson/module be helpful to you?
- Have you benefitted from our class discussions? How? Or why not?
- Do you feel welcome and included in our classroom community? Why or why not?
- What can I do to help you succeed in this course? Please explain. You may also use this space to record anything else you'd like to communicate to me.
For maximum student engagement and agency, it is important to inform students about when their mid-semester concerns will be addressed.
Student anonymity is important in surveys that ask students to share their opinions and perceptions. The instructions for filling out the survey should contain a statement that reassures students that they are free and safe to express themselves.