One of the best sources of information on how effective your teachers are is right in front of them: their students. Feedback forms for instructors and professors have long been used in college and university settings, particularly with graduate student instructors who are monitored by professors.
Sure, it can be a little scary to ask students for feedback, but the benefits of feedback forms can be appreciable. Perhaps the main thing feedback forms for teachers accomplish is to increase student engagement. Knowing what works and what doesn’t helps teachers design lessons that resonate. Here are 6 tips on creating teacher feedback forms for students so they benefit teachers, students, and administration.
1. Create Forms for Different Phases of the Semester
Newer teachers in particular may want to distribute feedback forms early in the semester, at approximately mid-semester, and at the end of the semester. Early feedback can bring to light practical issues (like acoustics or outside noise) so they can be addressed before they affect learning. Mid-semester feedback lets students and teachers evaluate whether they’re on track with class goals, and if not, take corrective steps. End-of-semester feedback gives teachers a long look at how successful the class was overall and can assist in planning for next semester.
2. Create Forms Specific to the Type of Class
Not all teachers perform the same types of functions, so it’s best if you create specific feedback forms to the type of class. For example, you could have different feedback forms for lectures, discussions, and labs. These allow teachers to gather information specific to their teaching environment without wasting time on feedback that may be irrelevant. Something that works wonderfully in a lab setting may not work well in a lecture, and vice versa.
3. Solicit Feedback on Teachers in Training from Mentor Teachers
If your educational institution pairs new teachers or teachers in training with established, “mentor” teachers, soliciting feedback from mentor teachers as well as from students can be helpful. This way, your new teachers can get more of a “360 degree” view of their work and can more easily identify their strengths and weaknesses. After a semester under the wing of a mentor teacher, new instructors can then focus more closely on feedback from students.
4. Recognize the Limitations of Paper Feedback Forms Completed in Class
Paper feedback forms handed out in class produce a high participation rate, especially if you allow time in class for their completion. But there are disadvantages too. Students may worry that you will recognize their handwriting and not be as forthcoming. Plus it can be hard to organize these responses. Online forms can be completed either on the student’s own time or during class if students bring laptops or other devices or otherwise have access to your network.
5. Encourage Use of Online Feedback Forms with Incentives
Electronic feedback forms completed on students’ own time are great because you can automatically download and collate results however you want. But it’s all too easy for students to forget to complete feedback forms once they’re out of the classroom. If you can’t distribute online feedback forms and collect them during class, you can offer incentives for those who print out and submit a confirmation page for you – a bit of extra credit, for example.
6. Make Sure All Important Topics Are Covered By Your Forms
You’ll probably want different feedback from students in a physics class than you would from students in a biology class. In general, however, your feedback forms should cover a handful of important topics:
• Are you able to reach your teacher easily when you have questions or concerns?
• Do you believe class time is used well?
• Do you find the tests, quizzes, and assignments to be fair?
• Do you find the work too easy or too hard for you?
• What is your most favorite thing about this class?
• What is your least favorite thing about this class?
• Is there other information you think your teacher should know?
Whether you ask open-ended questions, multiple choice questions, or ask for responses on a numerical scale, electronic feedback forms have numerous advantages over paper forms. There are always enough “copies” of electronic forms, they’re more anonymous (so students are more likely to be honest), and gathering, collating, and evaluating them is faster. PerfectApps offers a powerful, flexible toolkit for creating every type of electronic form and workflow, including teacher feedback forms. With its drag and drop interface you can create custom forms and route them automatically to the correct recipient. Have a look at our demo and you’re sure to think of many ways PerfectApps can make your organization more efficient, accurate, and responsive.