Feedback from Students

Gathering feedback from students at an early point in the semester helps gauge students’ learning and provides instructors with valuable data for making course adjustments.

On this page, we offer three simple, well-established feedback gathering tools from Angelo and Cross’ (1993) book, “Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers.”

What is your goal in seeking feedback? Do you want to know what students understand–or are struggling to understand? Do you want to promote student awareness of their own learning strategies? Are you interested in how students perceive your instructional efforts to support their learning?  Choose the tool that addresses your goal.

The One-Minute Paper

A minute paper is one of the most common techniques that university instructors use to formatively assess learning. This technique employs a short one-minute response to a question given by the instructor either at the beginning or end of the class session. Common questions include, “What question do you have that remains unanswered, and how would you begin to answer it?” and, “What is an important thing you learned today? (Explain in detail.)”

It is a way for instructors to obtain feedback from the class on whether students understood the main concepts in a lesson (or in the course up to that point). Reading the responses helps teachers understand where they may need to focus additional discussions or lectures to help student learning.

The minute paper can be used at the beginning of class as a pre-session activity or at the end of the class as a concluding feedback check. This technique requires minimal preparation time and provides valuable data.

  • Decide what aspect you want to assess. If you are interested in how students understand the day’s lecture it would be best do use the minute paper at the end of class; if you are interested in what students learned in previous sessions or their understanding of an assignment, the minute paper can be done at the beginning of class.
  • Consider sharing the findings at the beginning of the following class.
  • Consider making this exercise anonymous by informing students not to put their names on the paper.
  • Be specific about whether you are only looking for brief phrases and notes or whether you expect a clear explanation in full paragraphs.

Sample questions for the one minute paper

Punctuated Lectures

A punctuated lecture assessment activity consists of students answering questions about what they are doing while they are present in class. The instructor uses this technique to help make students aware of their attention strategies, their meaning-making strategies, and/or their note-taking strategies. Typically, an instructor would lecture on a particular topic and then stop the lecture to administer a punctuated lecture assessment. This provides immediate reflective information for individual students and useful data to instructors on what students do and don’t know about classroom learning strategies. This assessment tool also helps remind instructors to cue students from time to time about what students should be doing—especially in first-year and sophomore level courses.

  • Consider asking students to share, with a person seated nearby, suggestions for how to focus better and what to include in their notes.
  • Share particularly insightful responses and/or productive strategies with the whole class.
  • If you choose to administer this assessment more than once, ask students to complete the assessments electronically, send them to you, and save their completed surveys, so that they can track their responses over time.
  • If you choose to administer this assessment more than once, discuss its potential impact on motivating different learning strategies in class.

Sample Punctuated Lectures Form

Adapted from: Angelo, T.A., and Cross, K.P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Teacher-Designed Feedback Forms

Teacher-Designed Feedback Forms provide a quick and easy way to collect, code, and analyze classroom data. Instructors write a few items about instructional qualities of interest (e.g., intellectual challenge, clarity of lesson, usefulness of instructional activities, opportunities to participate, etc.) and add a few questions for students to comment on course strengths and suggestions for improvement. The benefit of using a Teacher-Designed Feedback Form, rather than a standardized feedback form, is that it allows faculty to write questions specific to a particular course or lesson.

  • Administer a survey at an early point in the semester and consider modifying the survey to collect data later in the semester on similar or different aspects of the course.
  • Distribute the form at the end of the class either on paper or through an online survey tool such as Google forms. The advantage of administering these electronically is that a tool like Google forms can quickly provide preliminary results.
  • Consider collaborating with your students to write questions, especially after you have administered a survey once with your own questions. This would further contribute to students taking ownership of their learning.
  • Ask questions only about teaching practices that you are able and willing to change.

Sample Teacher-Designed Feedback Form

Adapted from: Angelo, T.A., and Cross, K.P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.