Mid-semester Formative Feedback

The collection of mid-semester formative feedback from students is an extremely effective way to gain targeted and specific information from students about what factors are supporting or hindering their learning.

  • Mid-semester feedback is intended solely for the instructor to improve student learning.
  • Instructors can make decisions about potential changes to the subject in response to the student feedback.
  • Providing feedback to instructors prompts students to reflect on their learning in the subject and consider how their behaviors in the class are impacting the learning process.  

What to ask yourself

1. What do you really want to know about student learning in your subject?

2. When and how often do you want to collect this information?

Mid-semester feedback is best solicited before the midpoint of the semester. If your subject has 2 midterms, you may want to solicit feedback after students have received feedback on the first midterm. 

3. How will you collect this information?

  •  In class, using a paper feedback form
  •  In class, using an online survey/feedback form
  •  Out of class using an online survey/feedback form

What to keep in mind

Return rates are higher if the information is collected during a class period, although sufficient class time must be allocated for this process. It is strongly recommended that the feedback collected should be anonymous no matter what the form of the evaluation.

TLL staff members are available to help you develop a feedback form or strategy that addresses your teaching needs and assists you in processing and implementing feedback. Contact us at tll@mit.edu.

Some MIT faculty and instructors already solicit and use feedback from their students throughout the semester via MUD cards, exit tickets, and/or their own mid-semester feedback surveys. Examples of MUD cards and exit tickets are included for reference. The other templates are focused specifically on facilitating mid-semester evaluations and can be readily incorporated into any subject. 


MUD Cards

Many instructors across the institute implement a reflective technique called MUD cards. During the last 3-5 minutes of class, instructors distribute index cards or half-sheets of paper and have students anonymously reflect on the “muddiest” point from the lecture. Another common MUD card prompt is to have students reflect on the most important point(s) from the lecture. This encourages students to actively process what happened during class and to reflect on their understanding. Students hand in the MUD cards before leaving class, allowing the instructor to review them and address muddy points in the next class meeting, during office hours, or electronically.

MUD Card Template (Google Form)

Exit Tickets

“Ticket to leave” (or “exit ticket”) is an ideal way to end a class. It can serve many purposes:

  • Providing feedback to the teacher about the class
  • Requiring the student to do some synthesis of the day’s content
  • Challenging the student with a question requiring some application of what was learned in the lesson

The prompt or question should require only a brief time to respond to, certainly no more than five minutes, but perhaps only 1-2 minutes. The “ticket to leave” is not intended as a major task. Rather, a quick summarizer having one of the purposes listed above. The responses should not be part of formal assessment, but it can provide valuable feedback to the teacher.

Exit Ticket Template

Super Short Surveys

As the name suggests, the surveys include 3-4 short questions to obtain timely feedback.

Super Short Survey Templates

Pluses & Wishes

Students divide the evaluation sheet in half and place all the positives about the course on one side and suggestions for improvement on the other.

Pluses and Wishes Template

Plus/Delta Assessment

Asks students to consider what is working to advance their learning in the course and what could be improved by the teacher and the student.

It helps students to think about their responsibility to the course and what they should continue doing to learn (PLUS), and what they need to change for the course to improve for them (DELTA) (Helminski & Koberna, 1995). 

Plus/Delta Template

Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG)

The SALG asks students to assess and report on their own learning and the degree to which specific aspects of the course have contributed to that learning. It includes five overarching questions, each of which an instructor can customize through sub-items. 

SALG Template

West Point’s 20 Questions

The questions used at West Point probe an array of student learning issues and concerns. 

West Point’s 20 Question Template

Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID)

Developed at the University of Washington (1995 Wulff, Donald, et al.).  This method uses facilitated small group discussion (facilitated by someone other than the instructor) among students to provide feedback to improve teaching and develop ideas for strengthening the course.

Processing student feedback

After you have reviewed and analyzed the feedback, you may want to consider the following:

Are there clear trends and/or a clear consensus from students on specific aspects of their learning experiences?

  • Are there aspects of the course that can be easily modified to better support student learning?
  • Have students provided suggestions that you feel cannot be reasonably implemented? If so, consider articulating your rationale for not making changes in response to that specific feedback.

Plan to discuss the major themes in their feedback with your students and your anticipated actions in response to that feedback.

  • Thank them for their feedback.
  • Express your desire to work with them to improve their learning this semester and the specific actions you plan to take in response to their feedback.
  • Share any collaborative learning strategies that were mentioned by respondents. 
  • Encourage students to reach out to you with additional comments, questions, or concerns. Consider ways for students to provide ongoing feedback anonymously and attributed (e.g., email, surveys, discussion boards, etc.).

Synthesizing feedback is not always easy. For additional insight, reach out to us at tll@mit.edu for a confidential consultation.

Additional resources

Mid-Semester Evaluations (Inside HigherEd GradHacker Blog)

Maximizing Your Mid-Semester Evaluations (Inside HigherEd GradHacker Blog)

Wulff, Donald H., et al, The Student Perspective on Evaluating Teaching Effectiveness, ACA Bulletin, 53 (8), 39-47, (1985).