The 3 Best Teacher Feedback Questions to Continuously ask Students

Collecting feedback over the length of courses makes sense both for your personal development as a teacher and for students to gain as much knowledge as possible throughout the course.

Starting out the feedback collection early in the semester means there’s still time for effective improvement. Generally, studies have shown that teachers who want to improve their skills have more to gain from short, formative evaluations over lengthy end-course evaluations. Formative evaluations are able to bypass many controversies associated with end-course evaluations and can give more detailed information on specific teaching behaviors. As all information often flows directly to the responsible instructor, the process of collecting this valuable information is short and not as intimidating as high-stakes end-course evaluations.

“Handing out an adapted . . . evaluation form during the first weeks of your course, when there is ample time to make changes based on students’ input, is pretty darn brilliant”
-Therese Huston,Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Seattle University

Showing your students that their opinions and suggestions matter gives a feeling of value and empowerment and has been shown to produce a higher student satisfaction. Teachers using midterm evaluations can also enjoy up to 9% higher end-course evaluations score.

So what should you ask in these formative evaluations?
 We’ve reviewed almost a hundred different question templates from universities and schools and found a clear pattern as to what feedback questions successful universities are recommending their educators to ask from students.

It all comes down to these three simple questions:

1. What should the teacher start doing?

2. What should the teacher stop doing?

3. What should the teacher continue doing?

The exact phrasing of the questions varies a bit, Duquesne University has named the set ‘KQS’ (keep doing, quit doing, start doing), Michigan State University refers to them as ‘Traffic-light’ survey questions while Harvard and many others talks about ‘Start/stop/continue’-questions. 
 What is it that makes these three simple questions so powerful?

Open-ended & improvement focused

Researchers have shown that the format of the feedback form has a strong impact of the depth of the obtained feedback. The start, stop, continue form received the highest number of constructive comments of all forms compared in the study.

As these questions are all open-ended, students can write exactly what’s on their mind without any constrains of preset Likert-scale boxes.

Focused, quick and easy

The short and focused form of these three questions has been shown to increase student engagement. As we all know, filling out another feedback form is about as engaging as watching paint dry. Collecting relevant and constructive feedback all really comes down to how motivated the students are with sharing their opinions. Everything that can increase engagement is basically worth trying.

In almost every case, feedback quality is higher when using a few well-aimed questions over many over-specific ones.

Drawbacks?

While qualitative, open-ended questions provides many advantages over quantitative survey questions, representing the data is not nearly as easy. Calculating average student satisfaction, for example, is easy to do from quantitative data, but computers are not designed to analyze text in any deeper meaning.

You responses need to be both categorized and analyzed before you can start making sense of them. After that it’s time to start thinking about what changes could be made to your teaching.

Completing this process time and time again may sound like a lot of work. And don’t get me wrong, it is a lot of work. But if you take the time to complete this task you will be rewarded with a deep understanding of the strong and weak points in your teaching and any improvement opportunities will be obvious.

Spoiler alert: There is a much simpler way. Learn how in this guide:
 Guide — Best Practices When Handling Open-ended Start, stop, continue- questions

But don’t just take it from just me. Here are some of the many Universities who recommend their teachers the start, stop, continue-methodology (or something very similar) when collecting mid-term/continuous course feedback. By clicking the links you can read more about why they’ve chosen these questions.

Boston University

Harvard University

New York University

University of Edinburgh

Yale University

University of Texas

York University

University of Rochester

Michigan State University

University of California, Berkley

John Hopkins

Frostburg State University

Vanderbilt University

Duquesne University

Carnegie Mellon University


Originally published at blog.hubert.ai on November 17, 2017.