Tips From the Pros: Survey Your Students to Improve the Course

Feedback from students should not wait until the end of the course. Jennifer Luzar, associate professor of language arts at Northwood University, recommends surveying students throughout an online course to know how well you're doing and how you might improve it.

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Feedback from students should not wait until the end of the course. Jennifer Luzar, associate professor of language arts at Northwood University, recommends surveying students throughout an online course to know how well you're doing and how you might improve it. She offers the following recommendations on getting useful feedback from students:

Keep it anonymous. The best feedback from students is anonymous. Although most learning management systems enable you to do anonymous surveys, students may not feel that their identities will be protected. To reassure students about anonymity, Luzar recommends using a survey tool such as Survey Monkey (www.surveymonkey.com).

Survey students throughout the course. Routinely administer surveys throughout the semester—every week or two.

Ask students about new course elements. On a new assignment, you might ask, “Did you feel that the time allotted for preparation on this assignment was adequate? Did you feel that the group discussion helped you prepare for this assignment? Why or why not?”

Ask for elaboration. By asking for elaboration (why or why not?), you can determine exactly what if any issues came up, which can provide guidance on how to improve. “I can find out if the discussion board is useless or maybe they just had some lame ducks in the group. And from that I know that the next time I need to divide the groups differently or cut out the discussion component and have a phone conference or something like that,” Luzar says.