I started my teaching career in Ecuador. At the midpoint of each course, I’d pass out a paper survey for students to write anonymous feedback about the class. One creative response to the question “How can the teacher improve?” still hangs in my office to this day. The student wrote, “The teacher could use a new haircut style. It’s just a suggestion. It’s not necessary.” I still get a kick out of that.
All humor aside, I do think there are real benefits to providing a time and space for students to get things off their chest when needed, and with the major advances in technology in the last decade, it’s never been easier to do. Next term, I’m planning to have an ongoing survey that students can use to submit anonymous feedback to me at any point throughout the semester instead of having to wait until the teacher provides an opportunity. I’ll include a link to the survey on my syllabus.
This type of open access feedback tool will provide students with a space to share concerns before an issue grows. It also creates a tone in the class that says their opinions and ideas matter to me, adding one more layer to the support for the affective domain I like to provide in my classes. I imagine as I test this out, I’ll modify the specific questions on the form, but the link above can give you an idea of what one could look like. I used Google forms to create it, but I may switch to a different platform if I can find one that will send me notifications when someone submits a response. If you know of a better platform, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.
I’ll also use the survey at least once in the semester to directly ask for feedback as I normally would do in class. Even if no one uses it on their own, I still think the option of having it available will help set a positive tone in the class. What ideas do you have on the topic? How do you solicit feedback about your class?