NEXUS FACULTY RESOURCES BLOG

Gathering Student Feedback

September 24, 2020

Soliciting student feedback throughout the term is an important way to get a pulse on how students are doing. Live synchronous and asynchronous methods for students to give feedback about how they are experiencing the course — around course content and course navigation — provide opportunities for student engagement and dialogue and allow for timely adjustments within the semester to better facilitate learning.

Student feedback is especially important in an online course, where students are navigating digital spaces to access course materials and assignments and faculty may not have informal face-to-face interaction to gauge their comfort with the content and navigation. In an in-person classroom environment, impediments to learning are typically obvious, or student feedback and adjustments can be made in real time. For example, if a student cannot see the classroom screens, or if there is distracting construction noise, the students can adjust their seating and instructors can wear a lavalier microphone, taking action to resolve the issues. However, in an online course space, if the student is having trouble locating the lectures or is having issues with low volume on the lecture recordings, these barriers can be much more subtle but can have similar impacts on learning and engagement.

Check-ins to gather student feedback could be embedded at specific milestones in the course, such as after an assessment or three weeks into the term, or they could be distributed periodically through the course. Questions can vary based on what area of the course faculty are aiming to consider. It’s important to consider how students are managing both with course content and with course navigation or ease of use. Here are some tips for getting student feedback in both areas throughout the term.

Course Content

Gathering student feedback about course content and comprehension allows instructors to check in on how students are understanding the content. Student success on assessments and their engagement with course activities are both ways to get a sense for this. Here are some additional strategies to consider:

  • Incorporate knowledge checks into lectures by creating a brief practice quiz in Canvas or using Kaltura’s video quiz functionality.
  • Plan a few moments at the beginning or end of class for a ‘huddle’ to reflect on how things are going for the group.
  • Partner with CRLT-Engin to conduct a mid-semester feedback (MSF) survey to formally gather feedback.
  • Create a discussion board, such as asking students to briefly share the muddiest point of focus from a lecture, lab, or assignment.
  • Incorporate Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) modified for online use, such as concept maps or student-generated test questions.
  • Send an announcement welcoming students to share feedback at 1:1 office hours.

Course Navigation

For in-person classes, instructors guide and set the agenda of what is being covered for each session. For online courses, design and navigation helps students know what to do each session, where to find lectures, how they are progressing toward meeting course expectations, and how to submit assignments. As a result, we suggest soliciting student feedback specifically focused on if they are able to navigate easily to what they are looking for in the course. Here are some methods to gather student feedback:

  • Send an announcement with a Google form or ungraded Canvas survey asking students to share feedback on the course setup, navigation, and ease of use. After reviewing this feedback, send an announcement to students indicating common feedback and any course adjustments you have made.
  • Create a discussion board dedicated to questions about or issues with course navigation. This provides ample time to process the feedback and reply with suggestions or changes that have been implemented.
  • Briefly check in with students at the beginning or end of a synchronous session to solicit feedback, asking students if they are able to easily navigate to what they are trying to find. Remember, when asking for live feedback, you will have less time to process the information and respond. However, checking in informally with students in this way allows for a quick temperature check.

Questions to Measure Course Navigation

We suggest including a mix of Likert-scale and open-ended questions to understand the general ease of use and also identify any specific fixes that may need to be made to support student learning. Depending on the feedback you are looking for, this could be done in one comprehensive survey or with a few quick questions posed periodically to check in.

Sample Likert-scale Questions
Include a scale from 1-5 with these questions, with 1= “High ease of use” to 5= “High difficulty of use”, and a “Not Applicable” option.

  • Please rate the ease of the overall course navigation. 
  • Please rate the ease of use in locating and navigating to the:
    1. Course syllabus
    2. Course due dates
    3. Lecture/content
    4. Assignment submission instructions
    5. Course components you are looking for
    6. Office hours information and joining details

Sample Open-Ended Questions
Open questions allow students to share any particular issues they are having. We recommend asking questions regarding both the course site navigation and also engagement. 

  • What’s working well related to course navigation?
  • Are there any buttons, links, or tools that are not functioning properly?
  • Please share any specific issues you are having with navigating the course.
  • List any areas where adjustments could lead to increased ease of navigation.
  • List any areas where adjustments could lead to increased learning.
  • What does your GSI/IA do particularly well to support student learning? 
  • What would like to see your GSI/IA improve to better support student learning?
  • How does the peer engagement in the course (e.g., group work, discussion boards) support your learning?
  • What are ways that peer engagement (e.g., group work, discussion boards) could be improved?


For tips and technology tools to collect student feedback for your specific course needs, email
NexusDesign@umich.edu with questions or request a 1-1 consultation with an Nexus Instructional Designer.

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