Photo of a professor lecturing in front of a whiteboard.

It’s been seven weeks since the start of fall classes and students and instructors are well into the rhythm of the semester.  It’s a good time for you and your students to pause and take stock of how classes are going and what adjustments might enhance their learning experiences.

A variety of strategies can garner mid-semester feedback from students and classroom observers and provide valuable information not only about what students have learned but also how they are learning. And unlike end-of-the-semester ACE forms, mid-term feedback activities are designed for instructors’ use only. 

One-Minute Papers  Written on three-by-five cards, full-size paper, or online, one-minute “papers” are popular sources of mid-term feedback.  Instructors who use this approach generally ask no more than three questions, choosing from the following or creating their own:

  • What three concepts have you learned during the last unit (or, since the beginning of the semester)?
  • Does a concept confuse you?  If so, which one?
  • Which activities or assignments have you found most/least engaging?
  • Have you met your own learning goals?
  • What tasks or skills have you found most challenging in this course?*
    • Reading the text
    • Understanding the lecture
    • Connecting the reading to the lecture
    • Writing the paper
    • Asking questions
    • Finding time to study
    • Engaging in discussion
  • How can I help you learn better?

Classroom Observation  The Center for Teaching will attend your class to observe student interaction with you and peers, as well as your classroom delivery style, use of teaching technologies and how those are affected by the physical properties of the classroom.  Instructors are invited to chat with a staff member prior to the observation to help focus attention on any particular concern of the instructor; following the classroom visit, the instructor and staff member meet to debrief.  Per Center for Teaching policy, these interactions are confidential and by the instructor’s invitation.

Classroom Assessment by Student Interview (CLASI)  Like classroom observations, these mid-semester feedback options are at the instructor’s invitation and the results are confidential.  CLASIs work best for a class of 50 or fewer students.  They require 30 minutes of class time, during which the instructor is not present.  A Center for Teaching staff member facilitates the feedback session, first asking students to provide feedback in small groups to three questions: 

  • What is your instructor doing that enhances your learning? 
  • What is your instructor doing that impedes your learning?
  • What can you do to improve your own learning?

Once the responses are gathered, the facilitator then asks students to respond individually to those questions by indicating which of the answers generated by the groups they agree with.

CLASIs generate rich and useful data, and are very popular with both instructors and students.

Students who are asked to provide feedback through a one-minute paper, a CLASI, or other formats appreciate knowing that their instructor has read and considered their ideas.  By sharing one or two of the best ideas with their students and indicating they will act on them, instructors help students understand their input is valued. It also underscores the sense that instructor and students are all part of a learning community. 

Of course, the purpose of mid-semester feedback is not to undertake a wholesale course redesign, but to adjust and hone learning opportunities for students during the remainder of the semester. Small adjustments can make big differences to students—especially if they believe they have participated in making the course better for all. 

Please contact the Center for Teaching at or 319-335-6048 if you would like to have us visit your class and provide feedback or conduct a CLASI during the middle weeks of the semester.


*The tasks and skills list is from the University of Texas at Austin Sanger Center for Teaching.