Feedback on the Fly: how to collect, interpret, and respond to student mid-course feedback

Collecting Mid-course Feedback

  • Explain why you’re collecting this feedback and how it will be used.
  • Provide your students with an example or model of useful feedback.
  • Ask questions that assess what happens in the classroom (rather than assessing you).
  • Give students ample time to provide thoughtful feedback (whether in or outside of class).

Interpreting Student Responses

  • Give yourself time and emotional space to read the responses (i.e. not before class).
  • Keep in mind that students are responding with their perception and experience of the classroom.
  • Remember that “negative” comments can be useful; complaints don’t necessarily mean a course is going poorly.
  • Divide the issues raised by students into actionable and non-actionable items: what things can be changed or addressed by the end of the term vs. what things can be addressed in a future version of the course.
  • Remember that small changes can have big effects.

Responding in Class

  • Always debrief the results of this feedback with your students.
  • Avoid defensive or reactionary justifications.
  • Summarize their feedback as a group.
  • Be selective. Don’t cover every comment.
  • If there are confusing responses, ask for clarification from the class.
  • Acknowledge if students have identified shortcomings or successes you also recognize.
  • Note particularly useful comments without betraying their anonymity.
  • Explain how and what changes you’re making (or not making) based on this feedback.


Identifying and Responding to Emergent Themes

Adapted from Emily Gregor-Greenleaf et al. (2008), Gathering Formative Feedback with Mid-Course Evaluations: A Guide for Faculty (Office of Teaching Advancement, University of Toronto), Appendix E.

Summary of Responses:
Actionable or Not Actionable (before end-of-term)
How could this theme be addressed in the in-class debriefing? Could small changes be made?


Selected Bibliography and Further Resources

Mid-course Feedback
Cook-Sather, A. (2009). From traditional accountability to shared responsibility: the benefits and challenges of student consultants gathering midcourse feedback in college classrooms. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 34(2), 231-241.

Dangel, H. & Lindsay, P. (2014). What are our students (really) telling us. Journal of Faculty Development, 28(2), 27-33.

Diamond, M. R. (2004). The usefulness of structured mid-term feedback as a catalyst for change in higher education classes. Active Learning in Higher Education, 5(3), 217-231.

Gregor-Greenleaf, E., Gravestock, P., & Burnett, M. (2008). Gathering Formative Feedback with Mid-Course Evaluations. Office of Teaching Advancement, University of Toronto.

Holt, M. E., & Moore, A. B. (1992). Checking Halfway: The Value of Midterm Course Evaluation. Evaluation Practice, 13(1), 47-50.

Keutzer, C. S. (1993). Midterm Evaluation of Teaching Provides Helpful Feedback to Instructors. Teaching of Psychology, 20(4), 238-40.

Lewis, K. G. (2001). Using Midsemester Student Feedback and Responding to It. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 87, 33-44.

Roberts, R. M. (2011). Examining the Consistency of Students’ Evaluations of Teaching at Different Times during One Semester. Journal of Faculty Development, 25(3), 21-26.

Student Evaluations of Teaching (SETs)
Gravestock, P. & Gregor-Greenleaf, E. (2008). Student Course Evaluations: Research, Models and Trends. Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

Ory, J.C. (2001). Faculty thoughts and concerns about student ratings. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 87, 3-15.

Rando, W. (2001). Writing Teaching Assessment Questions for Precision and Reflection. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 87, 77-83.


This tipsheet was developed by Joel Rodgers and Alexandra Motut. These tips have been adapted from Gravestock & Gregor-Greenleaf (2008) and Gregor-Greenleaf et al. (2008).

For more tips, see the “Using Mid-Term Student Feedback,” produced by the Centre for Teaching Excellence at the University of Waterloo: