Feedback Requested by Professors Gives Students a Voice in Their Learning
The Center for Teaching, Learning, and Mentoring (CTLM) here at Arcadia is the underrated hero of campus. As a student fellow, I have had the chance to see all of the great work they do firsthand. In previous posts, I’ve written about our LOVE program in depth, but that is not the only thing we do here at the CTLM. One of our rising projects that we’ve been working on raising awareness for is Mid-Semester Feedback (MSF) and I hope this post informs existing and potential Knights about the wonders of MSF.
MSF is exactly what it sounds like: a chance for students to give feedback about their classes and professors… during the middle of the semester. CTLM has trained fellows that will sit with a class, without the professor present, and ask questions about the semester so far. Afterward, we share with the professor what strengths and weaknesses the class may have, any student concerns, and suggestions that might be useful. The best part? It’s all confidential!
Any professor can request that their class receive a consultant fellow for MSF, and the process is relatively simple. First, the professor must put in the official request that they are interested in a feedback session. CTLM pairs up a fellow/consultant with the professor. Then, the fellow meets with the professor one-on-one first, with the goal to gauge what the professor is looking for, what questions they should ask the students, what the class is like, and what potential challenges the professor is facing. This gives the consultant an idea of what the session with the students should look like and discern what sort of feedback the professor is looking for.
Then comes the actual feedback session with students. The professor and consultant decide on a class period where approximately 25 minutes can be dedicated to the feedback session. The professor leaves the room and the consultant uses the parameters discussed in the initial meeting to start a conversation with the students. While the session may be guided by the professor’s input, the consultant takes it wherever the students want it to go. This is when students get to give any feedback about the course and professor, positive or negative, and be heard. The consultant takes comprehensive notes about what is discussed and later synthesizes the information to then present back to the professor.
Once the consultant feels they have all the information needed to return to the professor, they write up a summary of the session and share it with the professor. This report is completely confidential when given to the professor. The consultant and professor meet one last time to discuss the session and the feedback that the students gave. The professor can use this summary to pose questions to the class, but what they do with the information is completely up to them.
The CTLM does this in an attempt to give a voice to students and allow them to have a hand in their own education. Arcadia University has a huge focus on faculty and student relationships, one of the benefits of going to such a small school. The MSF program helps students build a relationship with their professors and have control over what direction they take their learning. Giving this voice to students is so important to both CTLM and the university, and is one of the reasons why I love this program so much.
So, as a student, how can you get involved in the MSF program? The CTLM often puts out applications on Handshake or through email for consultants and student fellows. You can be the consultant that does this for other students! But if you are just interested in giving feedback for your future courses, you can always mention your interest to your professors. They can put in the request by emailing email@example.com.