As the midpoint of the semester approaches, you may begin to hear this question from your students: “What’s my grade so far?” Typically, their reason for asking this question is to determine how well they need to perform on the midterm exam or project to better their chances for a successful end to the course. Once you provide them with this midterm assessment, a follow-up question is usually posed: “So what can I do to bring up my grade?” A simple extra-credit assignment is usually what they’re hoping to receive. However, you know the solution isn’t that simple. Likely, a complete shift in learning behaviors and attitude is in order. Such a mid-semester adjustment can greatly benefit these students.
But what about turning this evaluative question on yourself? Have you ever asked your students how you’re doing? Let’s venture into this uncertain territory. . .
In the same way that we may pause a lecture or discussion to gauge our students’ understanding of the material, we should “pause” our courses to gauge the effectiveness of our teaching and evaluation methods. A very simple yet very effective tool for this is the Start-Stop-Keep Doing survey. This survey will allow you to see what students are responding to (or not) and what they would like for you to do (or stop doing) to enhance their experience and learning in your courses. Not only does this survey help you see what adjustments you may need to make, but it also serves as encouragement in the form of “Keep Doing” praise. Another benefit of this survey is that it communicates to your students that you care about what they think and about the learning experiences you provide to them. Moreover, when you take a little class time to discuss the common responses and suggestions and to brainstorm solutions, you show your students that you sincerely value their input. When students recognize this, they will, overall, become more engaged in your courses and respond more positively to your teaching and expectations.
I’d love to hear your experiences with this survey, especially what you plan to change in response to your students’ feedback. Please share your experiences in the comments section or on twitter @MelissaHudler (please use #startstopkeep).