As the calendar rolls into February and second semesters begin throughout the country, it can be useful to think about implementing student surveys in your classes.
Larry Ferlazzo, an ESL teacher and Learning Network contributor, polls his students every semester and finds the feedback he receives invaluable. “I’ve found that receiving feedback from my students about the class and my teaching style has helped me become a better educator,” writes Larry on his blog where he has compiled a host of resources to guide teachers through the survey process. Larry’s blog has everything from the form he uses with his students to his reflections from surveys he’s given to students in the past.
Like Larry, I’ve found that surveying students and faculty can be rewarding and helps inform what I do. In fact, reading Larry’s blog is the reason I started to use student surveys. In the past, I’ve used multiple-choice surveys for students based on the Stronge evaluation model, and also short narrative forms that can be used with greater frequency for staff feedback. (Hard copies of Stronge survey forms can be found here on pages 55-62.)
If you’re thinking about surveying your students, here are my top five recommendations for making the process a smooth one:
- Keep the surveys anonymous to encourage honesty.
- Be sure to inform your students or colleagues about why you value their opinion before they fill it out.
- Don’t make the form too long; 5-10 minutes to complete the form should suffice.
- Don’t dwell on the outliers–good or bad.
- Use the results to inform your practice. What does the data say you can improve about your classes, department or school right away?