Three Midterm Assessments to Improve Your Course Right Now

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You don’t have to wait for end-of-course evaluations to know how your course is going. Here are three midterm assessments you can use to get and implement feedback right now.

Minute paper

Distribute blank note cards five minutes before the end of a class session and ask the students to answer the following questions: 

  1. What is the most effective way this course helps you with your learning?
  2. What could I do to improve your learning in this course?

Students could be asked to leave the card on a desk on their way out. Alternately, you could also distribute an online survey with the same questions.

Important! Be sure to respond to your students’ feedback by providing a summary. Then, how you intend to adjust your teaching to respond to their requests, or how and why you will make changes in a future semester.

Self-observation

Consider recording a class session for you to review yourself or with a knowledgable colleague. Decide what aspect(s) of your teaching you’d like to concentrate on before viewing. Maybe you want to be sure you are calling on multiple students? Or not talking to the whiteboard instead of facing the class? Perhaps you want to focus on your delivery of the lecture or instructions for group work. There are several ways to record your course:

  • Find out if you have a room with DukeCapture recording available
  • Check out a video camera and/or a lapel microphone from the Link to record the session. If you are interested in group interactions, think about a 360 camera.
  • If you have a smaller course, your phone and a tripod may do.

Exam wrapper

If you would like to provide students insight into their study habits, consider asking students to fill out an exam wrapper as a final step of the midterm. The questions on an exam wrapper usually focus on student preparation for the exam, awareness of the common problems in their exam, and reflection on how to prepare for the next exam.

You can either award students points for the exam wrapper as a take-home assignment or set aside time during course time as an informal exercise. Carnegie Mellon’s teaching center has some useful examples of exam wrappers.

Resources

If you’d like to discuss these methods with an expert, or discover more in-depth methods of assessment, please see our guide to assessing your teaching or speak with a Learning Innovation consultant. The Trinity Office of Assessment has also developed some best practices.

Elise Mueller, Ph.D.

Author: Elise Mueller, Ph.D.

Elise Mueller is the consultant for the language departments at Duke. Her goal is to support their teaching through sound pedagogy and educational technologies. She leads fellowships and workshops on blended teaching, student reflection, portfolios and course design. She is currently grappling with the meaning of a liberal arts education in the 21st century.